New Zealand Judge Agrees Abortions Wrongly Classified as Mentally Necessary

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Zealand Judge Agrees Abortions Wrongly Classified as Mentally Necessary

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 9
, 2008

Wellington, New Zealand ( — A New Zealand judge has agreed with the claims of a leading pro-life group, which says abortions there are wrongly approved on mental health grounds. The island nation saw 17,934 abortions in 2006, according to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

The governmental agency’s report showed 98.9% of the abortions were approved on mental health grounds.

Saying abortions are needed for supposed mental health reasons allowed them to be legal later in pregnancy.

But Right To Life New Zealand asked for a review of the information and challenged the assessment from abortion facilities across the country that so many women need abortions for mental health reasons.

Justice Forrest Miller said issued a review of the data from the committee and said there is reason to doubt the legitimacy of the claims that the abortions were needed for psychological concerns.

During a previous hearing, Right to Life attorneys said the failure of the governmental agency to hold abortion businesses accountable has led to the phenomenon of abortion on demand throughout pregnancy in New Zealand.

Committee lawyers said they didn’t have the leeway to regulate the abortion centers, but Justice Miller ruled it can scrutinize the decisions of abortion practitioners as part of its role in monitoring abortions nationwide.

In February, Professor David Fergusson of Canterbury University challenged the notion that so many abortions were needed for mental health reasons and pointed to his own work showing women who have abortions are 40 percent more likely to have mental health problems.

His 2005 study found nearly half of women who had abortions "had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance abuse disorders.”

Ferguson wants the committee to commission more research and "have an assessment six months later to see what the evidence is revealing.”

"That would have been the responsible and sensible course of action to take," he said.

The pro-life group Voice For Life told that the previous Abortion Supervisory Committee declined to commission any research, and the new panel appears to be continuing that refusal.

Voice for Life says the New Zealand government is doing women a disservice by refusing to look into the study Ferguson, who is not pro-life, conducted.

Voice for Life says that this “head-in-the-sand” attitude by the ASC and its 205 certifying consultants, who are paid millions for their work, "is irresponsible and lulls unsuspecting women into a false sense of security about choosing abortion."

"Voice for Life calls on both the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice (who oversees the ASC) to commission the analysis and research requested by the Canterbury University 2005 Health and Development Study," the group concluded.