Dunedin doctor champions 'controversial' abortion stance

  • 04/07/2017

A Dunedin doctor certified to approve abortions has put her job on the line by taking a public stance on the controversial issue.

Certifying Consultant Helen Paterson has written to the country's governing body, saying she believes her views on abortion put her outside of the law.

"The law states that I need to have a certain viewpoint. And that means that if I believe that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor, I'm outside of the viewpoint of the law," Dr Paterson says.

Paterson has notified the Abortion Supervisory Committee - which appoints certifying consultants - that her views have changed and it could see her sacked.

Last year almost 13,000 abortions were performed in New Zealand with 98 percent of those approved under the Crimes Act on the grounds of mental health.

Abortion in New Zealand is a crime unless women have the approval of two certifying consultants.

"I think that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor. At the moment you can be in the situation where you only meet the woman for perhaps 10-15 minutes to assess whether she fits the criteria of the law," Dr Paterson says.

But the country's largest pro-life group says the approval of two professionals is an important safeguard.

'Voice for Life' Spokeswoman Kate Cormack says its important to "provide the woman with as much information and support as she makes her decision and her choice. If it was just between herself and the GP, that could raise some questions and some concerns".