The majority of New Zealanders think women considering abortion have the right to be fully informed of the medical risks of abortion – and the alternatives.
In the poll of 1,000 people undertaken by Curia Market Research this month, respondents were asked “Would you support a law that would require a woman considering an abortion to first see a doctor, who is not an abortion provider, to be informed of the medical risks and alternatives to abortion?”
64% supported this proposed law, 29% disagreed, and the remainder (8%) were either unsure or refused to answer. Interestingly, women were slightly more in favour of this restriction than men. There was also significant support from younger people (18-30).
“Family First NZ is calling for a law which requires informed consent including ultrasound for all potential abortions, and counselling to be provided only by non-providers of abortion services. Parental notification of teenage pregnancy and abortion should happen automatically except in exceptional circumstances approved by the court.” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “A poll last year found almost 80% support for parental notification laws.”
Mr McCoskrie says the poll results fly in the face of recent calls for the complete decriminalisation of abortion.
“It looks like the majority of people believe women have the right to the best independent information and advice before making a decision that could impact them later in life. Decriminalisation – which we virtually have at the moment anyway – will simply place more pressure on women to access an abortion without any need for fully informed consent.”
“The Abortion Supervisory Committee has been rebuked by the High Court recently for not administering the law correctly, and it is time to revisit the abortion-on-demand culture that currently exists in NZ.”
“Abortion can harm women – yet groups seeking to decriminalise abortion refuse to acknowledge this, seeing the right to abortion more paramount than the long-term health and welfare of the women.”
A University of Otago study in 2008 found that women who had an abortion faced a 30% increase in the risk of developing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Other studies have found a link between abortion and psychiatric disorders ranging from anxiety to depression to substance abuse disorders. And the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK recommended updating abortion information leaflets to include details of the risks of depression. They said that consent could not be informed without the provision of adequate and appropriate information.
“With 98% of abortions in NZ being performed on the basis of the mental health of the mother, it is time that the research on the post-abortion mental health outcomes was given equal weight with the pro-abortion claims.”
“Along with protecting the rights of the unborn child, we need to protect the rights of women and young girls to know the medical facts in order that they can make fully informed decisions,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The current safeguards are a small step towards that.”
The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%