Mind Matters
Vol. 20 No 3 | Spring 2018
Letters to the Editor: Abortion in New Zealand
Dame Margaret Sparrow DNZM MBE
Dr Carol Shand

This article is 6 years old and may no longer reflect current clinical practice.

Congratulations. O&G Magazine Winter Vol. 20 No. 2 contributes significantly to the discussion on changes in abortion laws to reflect best medical practice in Australia and New Zealand. More detail could have been provided on the current laws in New Zealand, but hopefully changes will take place and this topic can be revisited. The article on the tyranny of distance focuses on a universal access problem. In New Zealand, even though the distances are smaller, women residing outside the main centres are significantly disadvantaged.

It would have been instructive to point out that statistics collection in New Zealand since 1980 has been creditable, providing useful information and confirming the safety of abortion procedures. From 1980–2017, there have been no deaths in a total of 436,043 abortions. This compares very favourably with the WHO figure quoted of one or fewer deaths per 100,000.

Clarification is provided on two relatively minor points. Firstly, in the article on early medical abortion, Dr Rasmussen argues for greater involvement by doctors outside dedicated facilities to become certified prescribers of mifepristone. Unfortunately, there is currently no pathway for this to happen in New Zealand. All abortions must be performed in a licensed facility until the law is changed. The advice that interested doctors should contact the Abortion Providers Group Aotearoa will only confirm this restriction. Secondly, in the article on post-abortion contraception under emergency contraception, the authors imply that the 30mg ulipristal acetate pill is available in New Zealand, but, regrettably, it is not.

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