Ruling on scan offer before abortions

Dominion Post 7 May 2009
Women should be offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound scan of their baby before they decide to abort it, the Health and Disability Commissioner says. Anti-abortion group Right to Life complained to the commissioner after finding four district health boards Auckland, Waikato, Wairarapa and Canterbury did not offer women the chance to view the scan before going ahead with an abortion. Waikato DHB said it was an “infringement of the patient’s rights” to offer it.

Commissioner Ron Paterson said any pregnant woman should be told of their right to view an ultrasound, and it was up to them whether they did or not.It is a debate that is raging in the United States, where a number of states are considering passing laws that would force women to view an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion. Some want them to listen to a fetal heartbeat as well. Critics have labelled the proposals “emotional blackmail”. New Zealand’s abortion rates are high, with more than one in five known pregnancies in New Zealand aborted. In 2007 the most recent statistics available 18,380 abortions were done.

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