Nearly all abortions in New Zealand are justified on the grounds of averting danger to mental health. However research published in the latest edition of the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry dismisses this rationale as a clinical fiction.
The study, “Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence”, was undertaken by the highly regarded Prof David Fergusson and fellow psychiatrists at the University of Otago. They found no evidence that abortion reduces risk of mental health problems in the case of unwanted or unintended pregnancies. In fact it may actually increase risk. The authors of the study conclude:
“…the growing evidence suggesting that abortion does not have therapeutic benefits cannot be ignored indefinitely, and it is unacceptable for clinicians to authorize large numbers of abortions on grounds for which there is, currently, no scientific evidence.” (ANZJP Vol.47 No.4 April 2013)
It is encouraging to see medical professionals with the honesty to challenge their colleagues on this issue. One is reminded of High Court judge Justice Miller who in 2008 had the honesty to express “powerful misgivings” about the way the mental health clause was being applied in New Zealand abortion law (Right to Life New Zealand Inc v The Abortion Supervisory Committee, High Court, Wellington 9 June 2008). In his judgment he concluded,
“There is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. ” (RTL v ASC, 5.c)
So now we have the bizarre situation in New Zealand where the mental health ground for abortion has been declared a clinical fiction by the medical establishment, and a legal fiction by the legal establishment. In spite of this our political establishment remain steadfastly committed to avoiding the issue.
For the thousands of unborn children terminated every year in our country, the reality of abortion is definitely not fiction. Neither is it an issue they can avoid, for they have none of the “choice” trumpeted by the advocates of abortion.