Earlier this year, New Zealand officially decriminalized abortion. Through the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, women can obtain an abortion for any reason they choose. After 20 weeks, it remains legal, as long as two doctors approve. Yet according to a survey from the Ministry of Health, the country is having difficulty finding doctors willing to commit late-term abortions now that they are legal.
The Ministry of Health recently released a summary of the quarterly survey with the 19 District Health Boards [DHBs]. Though the full survey has not yet been released, the summary is still eye-opening. The report states that the majority of DHBs are willing to commit abortions in the first trimester, including surgical procedures. Yet only a few DHBs commit second and third trimester abortions, and “very few” DHBs commit what the report refers to as “feticide,” or abortion past 22 weeks.
“In general, there is very limited availability of services from 22 weeks if there is no fetal abnormality or severe health risk to the woman,” the report reads. “This is further limited by the requirement for feticide, which is not provided by most DHBs and is frequently unavailable unless there is a diagnosis of fetal abnormality.”
Part of the issue is that New Zealand has “too many” doctors who conscientiously object to committing abortions, particularly late-term abortion.
“Conscientious objection is proving to be a major barrier in ensuring the availability and continuity of this workforce and the services they provide,” the report explains. “Some medical practitioners are unwilling to be involved outside of care for severe fetal abnormality. There are also high levels of conscientious objection in the midwifery and nursing workforce for abortions after 20 weeks. Providers of feticide are likely to object to being involved if the abortion is not because of fetal abnormality or severe health risk to the woman. Recruiting staff for these abortions can be difficult.”
Of course, considering how brutal and violent late-term abortion procedures are, it’s not entirely surprising that many doctors — who swear an oath to save lives, not take them — would be loathe to participate. A dilation and evacuation, or D&E, abortion is typically committed between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, and takes several days to complete.
On the first day, the abortionist uses laminaria to dilate the woman’s cervix. One to two days later, the woman returns to see the abortionist, who administers anesthesia and further dilates her cervix. Then, the abortionist uses a suction catheter to empty the uterus of amniotic fluid before using sopher clamps to dismember the preborn baby, limb from torso.
Even in the United States, doctors seem largely unwilling to commit abortions. According to a study from 2019, most abortionists are men who have been committing abortions for over 30 years. Abortion advocates have complained that many medical students and young doctors refuse to learn how to commit abortions, and those who do learn say they are often shunned by their colleagues. Abortionists have, for years, complained they are not respected by the medical community. Late-term abortionist Susan Robinson has complained about how abortionists are seen by other doctors. “If you do abortions, it is very hard to get the privilege to work in a hospital, because they don’t like abortion providers,” she said in an interview with AFP. “They are almost all done in outpatient clinics, free-standing clinics, in this country. Being an abortion provider is very stigmatized. Other doctors look down on you and think of you as like the lowest of the low.”
Warren Hern, another late-term abortionist, said abortionists are made to feel “irrelevant,” while abortion facility owner Diane Derzis said that, even among abortion supporters, abortionists are seen as “dirty.”
Most people go into medicine because they want to be healers, and to save lives — not because they dream of killing preborn children every day.
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