10 December 2013
Abortion Supervisory Committee,
Dear Ms Melkiau,
Medical Abortions – Lawful Procedure
Thank you for your letter of 13 October 2013. In response to our question 6, which read;
May women having an abortion at the Tauranga clinic take the prostaglandin, Misoprostol in their own home as is the common practise in Britain? You replied.
“As answered above at number 5, the Act provides that for abortions to be lawful they must be carried out at licensed institutions, Advice received by the Committee provides that the second dose of prostaglandin which is usually given solely for purpose of controlling bleeding post-procedure may be taken outside of the licensed premise.”
The literature on medical abortion informs us, that few abortions conclude with the expulsion of the human embryo occur after the use of Mifepristone only. The majority of abortions conclude with the expulsion of the human embryo only after the use of the prostaglandin, Misoprostol.
The anecdotal evidence we have received from members of the community in Tauranga is that Misoprostol is being given by staff at the Family Planning clinic in Tauranga, to all women undergoing a medical abortion at that facility to take home and self administer. We are aware that Misoprostol is used extensively overseas to stop post-partum bleeding.
Our Society has sought an opinion on this important issue from our counsel Peter McKenzie CNZM, QC. It is his opinion, that the practice of the staff to provide Misoprostol to women, undergoing a medical abortion to administer at their home, is unlawful in terms of the judgment of Justice Durie. To assist you I have enclosed a copy of our counsel’s opinion. (Note NOT ATTACHED IN THIS WEB POST)
Our Society is concerned that patients undergoing a medical abortion, may experience adverse events, that range in severity from complications that are serious but not life-threatening, to those that can lead to hospitalisation and death.
This matter raises several important questions:
- Does your Committee agree with the opinion of our counsel that it is unlawful for the abortion provider, the New Zealand Family Planning Association to give Misoprostol to women at its Tauranga clinic while undergoing a medical abortion, for them to administer Misoprostol in their home?
- If so, what action will your Committee take to ensure that the abortion law is adhered to?
- Under the Official Information Act, what are the names of other abortion providers, if any, who are providing Misoprostol to women undergoing a medical abortion for the purpose self administering in their own home?
- In view of the serious nature of this issue I would be grateful if you would provide an urgent response to the above questions?