Stuff.co 13 October 2013
Doctors are subverting abortion law by adopting “liberal criteria” as to what constitutes a mental health problem, allowing women to more easily undergo the procedure, a University of Otago professor says.
David Fergusson, a professor of psychology, is not anti-abortion, but says our law needs to be liberalised to fit current practice.
But the head of the committee which oversees abortion in this country says we are not ready for law change and “if we start opening the whole thing up . . . we might end up with something that is worse than what we have got”.
Under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, abortion cannot be performed until certified by two consultants and only if the pregnant woman faces a danger to her life, physical or mental health.
Fergusson said about 90 per cent of abortions were justified on mental health grounds.
However, recent research by Fergusson and others showed having an abortion did not help mental health and in fact it was associated with small to moderate increases in anxiety, alcohol misuse, illicit drug use and suicidal behaviour.