Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Groups clash over contraception

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A Bay of Plenty abortion law reform advocate wants contraception made freely available to all women to limit unplanned pregnancies.

"If we want to lower the abortion rate, the way to do it is not to restrict abortions," Bay of Plenty Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) spokeswoman Alison McCulloch said.

"It is to ensure there are fewer unplanned and unwanted pregnancies [and] the way to do that is to increase access to contraception and to have education programmes."

Last year, 821 abortions took place in the Bay of Plenty region, nearly one-in-three for women aged 20 to 24, according to Statistics NZ.

In total, 15,863 abortions were performed nationally, down from 16,630 in 2010.

But Voice for Life New Zealand says women need more information when they visit a doctor for a termination.

"Our view is free contraception will not lower the [termination] rates," administrator Steve Jaunay said.

"It hasn't in the past and it won't in the future.

"The issue is that the choice is not fully informed and that's our concern," he said.

Mr Jaunay said doctors needed to disclose information to women about research linking mental and emotional disorders with abortion.

A young Bay of Plenty mother, who decided to terminate after accidentally falling pregnant, spoke about her ordeal.

"I found out I was pregnant two weeks ago ... and went straight to the doctor and set up my abortion because I've already got two babies under 2 and I couldn't cope because I'm a single mother."

The 24-year-old, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision to abort was one of the hardest things she had been through.

"They [doctors] did explain to me that I had other options like adoption.

"They asked me why [terminate] and I said it's because I have two young babies already.

"They asked me why I didn't want to do adoption and I just told them it would be hard for me to carry for nine months and get attached to my stomach and my baby, and it would be hard for me to just let it go."

The mother of two said termination was not something any woman should have to go through.

"Avoid unplanned or unwanted pregnancies and just get yourself sorted out," she said.

Exactly one week after her termination, the 24-year-old had a Jadelle contraceptive device implanted, which would prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

"When I went to the doctor and arranged my abortion they did ask me if I wanted to get the other one, the IUD [Intra Uterine Device] ... which they put in straight after your termination, but I didn't want to [have that]."

Under the Government's controversial welfare reforms, it is offering free long-term contraception to beneficiaries.

Pro-life protesters have sent threatening messages this week to staff at a Southland abortion clinic.

Reports of name-and-shame tactics at the Invercargill clinic, which opened last month, have been condemned as extremism by politicians and ALRANZ.

"Everyone is entitled to say what they want to say, but it's not fair ... if they don't know the situation," the young mother said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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