Abortion debate rages in Tauranga

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Western Bay churches have joined forces to launch an anti-abortion campaign, sparking questions from a pro-choice advocate.

The faith-based advertisement features in the Bay of Plenty Times today and lists 25 local pastors and reverends promising pregnant women that they will do all they can to "bring a healthier solution for you and life to your precious child".

The ad was instigated by Voice for Life Bay of Plenty Charitable Trust.

Chairman Don Brebner said it was a collective response from churches over abortion services being brought to Tauranga.

"When you are dedicated with respect for life, you're obviously obliged to do what you can."

Mr Brebner said there were several support services in the community that could help mothers in situations where they might not be able to afford to bring a baby into the world.

"Up to now, the Catholics have worked through the Magellan Trust and it has helped nearly 100 or more women in that situation over the past five years."

The trust was connected to the St Vincent de Paul Society in providing financial assistance to people who needed it, he said.

Changepoint church Pastor Geoff Booth said he was happy to be part of a network supporting alternatives for pregnant women considering abortion.

When asked if the church could help financially, Mr Booth said it provided more of a holistic approach and would help practically by lending baby gear, such as buggies and bassinets, from other church members who no longer used them.

"If someone chose to go through the pregnancy but doesn't have the basic needs to do so, we can help in that area."

C3 Church Pastor Tamati Cameron said the campaign was a way of reaching out to would-be mums and to let them know support was there.

"If they do have the baby, they are not alone.

"There's a bunch of people in our church who have been mums and know how hard it is."

Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand executive member Alison McCulloch questioned what concrete support the churches could offer and said she hoped the approach was genuine, regardless of the women's eventual decision.

"Any group offering to help young women in a non-coercive way that doesn't stigmatise their choice is a good thing.

"But I'm a little wary of anything that coerces women in any direction, or that shames them about choosing abortion."

Ms McCulloch, who wrote Fighting to Choose: The Abortion Rights Struggle in New Zealand, said organised faith-based groups often tried to "guilt" women into keeping their babies.

Family Planning New Zealand chief executive Jackie Edmond said women made decisions around abortion for different reasons.

Tauranga Family Planning Clinic began abortion services in April this year.

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