by Steven Ertelt
July 19, 2006
Wellington, New Zealand (LifeNews.com) — A New Zealand student has received a 20 month prison sentence for illegally importing and selling the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug. The student is the first person prosecuted for illegal abortions in more than 40 years in New Zealand.
In April, the nation filed charges against the distributors of an illegally imported abortion drug made by a Chinese company.
Zinfeng Zhu (also known as Kelly Zhu), who is 24 and from Auckland, faced as much as seven years in jail after admitting in Auckland District Court to bringing the abortion drug into the nation.
Zhu admitted to receiving the abortion drugs from her parents in China and she said she made nearly $18,000 by selling them. When authorities arrested Zhu, they found a large quantity of the abortion drugs in her apartment.
She brought the drugs into the country during 2005 and newspaper reports have highlighted several cases of women hemorrhaging and nearly dying from incomplete abortions after using the drugs.
Derek Fitzgerald, the Medsafe team leader for compliance, said in a statement obtained by LifeNews.com that he was pleased with the investigation of the case and its outcome.
"This is an important case because of the serious side effects of the medicines involved, especially the abortion-inducing medicines," Fitzgerald explained. "These medicines require a proper medical diagnosis. There may be a significant risk of serious adverse reaction and women may require medical oversight or care after taking them.”
In April, Director-General of Health Dr. Karen Poutasi, issued a warning to women against taking morning after and abortion pills that had been obtained without medical advice and without a prescription.
"It is important that women do not take morning after pills, oral contraceptives or abortion medicines that have not been approved for use in New Zealand or are supplied without a prescription or consultation with an accredited healthcare professional," she said.
Officials discovered Zinfeng after confiscating bags containing the drugs at Auckland International Airport.
Abortions are legal in New Zealand as long as they are done by licensed doctors and approved abortion facilities. A 1961 law prohibits unlicensed abortions and Zinfeng was charged under that law.
The abortion drug RU 486, also know as Mifepristone, is legal in New Zealand and available from abortion practitioners in Auckland and Wellington.
Zinfeng had advertised the abortion drugs, on an Internet web site that was one of the most visited Chinese-language web sites in New Zealand.