Right to Life has made a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner against the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) alleging that the Committee is not acting in the best interest of women by withholding vital information from them. Have we forgotten the Cartwright Enquiry and its finding that women were not treated with respect? Right to Life alleges that the ASC is in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers Rights that are included in the Health and Disability Act 2000. Right six states; You have a right to an explanation of your options and to be fully informed. Right seven states; You have a right to give an informed consent.
The Abortion Supervisory Committee [ASC] has decided to withhold information from women that could save the life of their unborn child. The drug Utrogestan if taken within two days of taking Mifepristone RU 486 for a medical abortion and prior to taking the prostaglandin Misoprostol has a 59 per cent chance of saving the life of the unborn child. At present women are told that once they have taken the Mifepristone, the abortion has commenced and they cannot stop the abortion. This is simply not true.
Right to Life first made a submission to the ASC in December 2014, requesting that this important information be given to all women seeking a medical abortion. The ASC responded advising that the drug Progesterone was not available in New Zealand. Right to Life responded, advising that Pharmac’s web site stated that the drug was freely available in New Zealand under the name Utrogestan. The ASC responded stating that it was not available to prevent a medical abortion. Right to Life responded that further research revealed that it was available on prescription and was standard practice to use this drug for preventing a miscarriage and therefore could be used to reverse a medical abortion.
The Committee replied on 30 July; “The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) is confident in the robust pathway that is in place when women are seeking an abortion. The ASC will not be taking any action regarding the use of Utrogestan to reverse abortions.” (our emphasis)
The ‘robust pathway’ for women results in medicalised deviance with murdered children and wounded women. Right to Life believes that the Committee has a legal duty to ensure that women considering a medical abortion are fully informed of their options, which includes the right to discontinue with the abortion and seek a reversal.
The Health and Disability Commissioner was established in 1994, as a result of the Cartwright Enquiry, into the National Women’s Hospital in Auckland in 1988. This enquiry concluded that it was necessary to have, “An understanding of treatment, which went beyond medical procedures and included respect for patient’s human dignity including their right to effective communication and informed consent.” It is noted that the chairperson of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, Dame Linda Holloway was an advisor to Judge Cartwright at the enquiry and would have assisted in the drafting of the report on the Cartwright Enquiry.
It is disappointing that the Committee does not recognise that;
- A woman has an absolute right to withdraw her consent from proceeding with an abortion. To withhold information that prevents her from stopping the procedure, would in our view, be unlawful.
- The Committee’ action does not give respect to the human dignity of women undergoing an abortion.
- This is a matter of life and death for an unborn child. A woman has a right to choose life for her child. We have a duty to uphold that right.
- Overseas studies reveal that an estimated 64 per cent of women who have an abortion are coerced into having an abortion, by family or the father of the child; so in fact having an abortion is not her decision but a decision made by others. These women are suffering a great injustice that would be compounded if they were denied knowledge of the potential to reverse a medical abortion.
- It is reasonable that this information be given to women by the first certifying consultant as part of the informed consent process.
- A certifying consultant who does not provide this information to women who had changed their mind about proceeding with a medical abortion may be subject to a civil case for damages by these women.
Right to Life.