Tauranga abortion clinic keeps licence

  • 02/10/2015
(Jared Mason)
(Jared Mason)

A Tauranga abortion clinic can continue providing medical abortions in early pregnancy, after a judge largely dismissed a legal challenge from Right to Life.

The anti-abortion group went to the High Court in Wellington in June arguing the Abortion Supervisory Committee wrongly granted the Tauranga Family Planning Clinic a limited licence to carry out abortions.

The Family Planning Association had applied for the clinic to carry out only medical abortions - using drugs - rather than surgical abortions, and they be done during the first nine weeks of pregnancy.

But Right to Life said the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act did not permit the committee to license only medical abortions or nine week-only abortions.

In his judgment released yesterday, Justice Joe Williams found the act says a limited licence must authorise the FPA to perform abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

But if the committee considered there were patient health issues around the timing of early medical abortions, it could impose safety standards that reflect that. If nine weeks was now considered "best practice", that would be relevant.

While he declared the clinic's licence renewals for 2014 and 2015 unlawful because they used the nine-week phrase, Justice Williams otherwise dismissed RTA's application, saying the licence wording be changed to "only during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy".

"I specifically refrain from declaring the FPA's current limited licence in relation to the Tauranga Family Planning Clinic is void as I consider the unlawful words of the licence to be severable," he said.