Waitemata District Health Board rewrites abortion policy

Two women claim they felt suicidal after being told to travel to Australia to get an abortion.
Two women claim they felt suicidal after being told to travel to Australia to get an abortion. Photo credit: Getty

The Waitemata District Health Board has rewritten its policy on second trimester abortions, after two women went public about being denied the procedure.

Women who request a termination at 18 to 20 weeks gestation in west or north Auckland will now be able to see a consultant.

Abortion is a crime in New Zealand, but is allowed until 20 weeks if two consultants agree that the pregnancy causes serious risk to the mother's life, physical or mental health.

Despite that, Waitemata DHB would not perform an abortion at 18 to 20 weeks and the policy says women were to be advised they could travel to Australia - where in some states it's legal up to 24 weeks - at their own expense.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the DHB said the policy was being updated to allow such women to see a certifying consultant.

"While the DHB's current second trimester termination of pregnancy policy has been followed appropriately and complies with the law, we have listened carefully to patient feedback and it is clear that some patients would appreciate the opportunity to meet with a doctor," it reads.

In the last two months, two women have spoken out about being denied an abortion at the DHB. Both described considering suicide after being told they would have to travel to Australia.

The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand's president Terry Bellmak says she welcomes the change to the policy, and hopes now the DHB will refer patients to the Auckland District Health Board - instead of Australia.

Newshub.

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