Catholic bishops oppose licence for Early Medical Abortions

20 Nov 2009 | BIOETHICS

New Zealand’s Catholic bishops are writing to various government ministers to oppose and express their concern about the possible granting of a licence to dispense Mifepristone (Mifegyne® RU 486) with Misoprostol for the purpose of procuring Early Medical Abortions (EMA).

The Hamilton Family Planning Clinic has requested the licence which, if granted, will enable RU 486 to be used with Misoprostol to procure an abortion without the need for surgical intervention.

Father Michael McCabe, Director of the bishops’ bioethics agency The Nathaniel Centre, says granting the licence for this or any of the Family Planning Clinics in New Zealand would effectively turn them into abortion clinics.

“This represents a major departure from their stated purpose and would inevitably make abortion easier to procure at a time when there is widespread agreement that abortion numbers in New Zealand are already far too high,” he says.

“Hamilton Family Planning’s proposed procedure for administering Mifepristone and Misoprostol could also place women at risk, as they will abort unsupervised at home”.

Of particular concern to the bishops is the dispensing of RU 486 and Misoprostol to girls under the age of 16 without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

“Such a scenario is at odds with other areas of law where parents can be held responsible for their children’s actions and medical care. Parental consent is required for minor medical interventions, but not for a procedure that has distressing and severe side effects, and the possibility of long term mental health consequences,” says Father McCabe.

“Of further concern is the number of well documented side effects, with even promoters of the drug acknowledging that it is still too new to ascertain the long term consequences on future pregnancies.”

“In 2008 nearly 18,000 New Zealanders were killed by abortion. To make abortion even more available and to equate it with other means of family planning is a backward step in terms of reducing the numbers of abortions in New Zealand."