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Watch NZH Local Focus: Thames abortion stoush

Hunter Calder

For the last five years, anti-abortionists have gathered every Friday morning outside Thames Hospital, in the hope they'll make pregnant women reconsider their decision to terminate. Hauraki Voice for Life member Lyn Hopkins says she's there to offer her support.

"I think our presence makes people think, it makes people realise that they're not just talking about a blob of cells or a blob of nothing, that it's actually a child, it's actually a human being and like all human beings it has a right to life," Mrs Hopkins says

But, for the last two months, the protestors have been met with a protest by pro-choice campaigners, who say Voice for Life and Right for Life need to stop confronting pregnant women.

Gaysorn Thavat says women have the right to choose if they want to have an abortion.

"It's the most agonising decision a woman will have to make about having a termination so I think the fact that there's people standing there intimidating them harassing them, it's really not on," she said.

In the past, there have been reports of pushing and shoving between the two opposing groups.

Abortion Law reform association member Scott Summerfield said women don't want to be confronted with people telling them they are making the wrong decision. Mr Summerfield said the Thames Hospital has told him complaints from patients who are already distressed and upset have been coming in.

But the members of Voice for Life and Right for Life believe they are a voice for the unborn foetus that is being "carried around".

"We had a chap that came up, holding a little boy by the hand and said thank you for being here, without you being here he wouldn't be here, and this smiley little boy gave us a grin," Lyn Hopkins said.

Last year there were more than 13,000 abortions in New Zealand, down from more than 18,000 in 2007. Terminations are granted on a case by case basis. However, they must be authorised by two certified practitioners.

The pro-choice campaigners want the Thames Coromandel council to ban the anti-abortion demonstrators. In a statement the council said everyone has a right to protest peacefully and both groups have permits to be on the public land.

Both sides are vowing to continue their Friday morning vigils outside Thames Hospital.

Made with funding from NZ On Air.

- NZ Herald

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