15 September 2020
Office of the Ombudsman,
Official Information Act request –Complaint
I wish to lay a complaint against the Ministry of Health for declining to provide information requested in my Official Information Act request of 4 August 2020.
The information was withheld under section 9[a] of the Act, to protect the privacy of individuals. It is alleged that the release of this information may indirectly identify the people that it relates to due to the specific nature of these questions.
My complaint relates specifically to the following questions:-
- The number of abortions that were performed by Women’s Clinics in Masterton, Palmerston North and Invercargill?
- The number of abortions that were performed by registered midwives?
- The number of abortions that were performed in Family Planning clinics?
The Director General of Health has a statutory duty under the Abortion Legislation Act 2020 to provide Parliament with regular statistics on abortion. It is noted that the Abortion Supervisory Committee since 1978 also had a statutory duty to provide Parliament with an annual report on the performance of abortion in New Zealand. This report was substantial and comprised more than forty pages. It was readily available to the community. This report included a list of all the registered abortion facilities and the number of abortions that had been performed in the facility in the year of reporting..
The women’s clinics in Masterton, Palmerston North and Invercargill are clinics owned by the Magma Health Care Ltd a private company that has contracts with a number of District Health Boards to kill unwanted children before birth. We share the Ministry’s concern about protecting privacy. I would note that with the experience of forty-seven years involvement in the pro-life movement I know of no instance where the listing of abortion facilities has resulted in a breach of privacy. I believe that the public have a right to know the number of abortions funded by the taxpayer that are performed by a private company for profit.
According to the Midwifery Council in New Zealand there were 3,171 registered midwives in New Zealand in 2019. Prior to the passing of the Abortion Legislation Act 2020 abortions could be lawfully performed only by registered medical practitioners. The new law came into operation on 24th March and now permits midwives to perform medical abortions. I believe that Parliament and the public have a right to know how many abortions are performed by midwives. I do not believe that release of this information will impact on the privacy of midwives or of their patients.
The Family Planning Association with thirty clinics are the major abortion referral agency in New Zealand. I am aware that the Association has a policy to turn all of its clinics into abortion clinics. I consider it appalling that the Ministry intends to keep secret the number of abortions that are being performed by Family Planning.
It is inconceivable that the government wish to treat the killing of the defenceless unborn as a routine health service and “a reproductive health choice for women” while at the same time withholding important information from Parliament and the public.
It is my belief that it is the intention of the Ministry to discourage a continuing public debate on the killing of our innocent unborn and the health and welfare of their mothers, the second victim of abortion.