An increase in the number of
abortions performed in the Southern district during 2011-12
is an anomaly created by the merger of Otago and Southland's
district health boards, Abortion Supervisory Committee
chairwoman Dame Linda Holloway says.
The committee's 2013 report showed 14,475 abortions were
performed throughout New Zealand in 2012 - the lowest number
The number of abortions performed in Dunedin Hospital during
2012 was 740, down from 778 in 2011 but well up on the 576 in
2010. About 100 abortions were performed at Southland
Hospital's new clinic in 2012.
About 5% of all abortions in New Zealand were performed at
Dunedin Hospital in the two-year period compared with about
3.5% for the nine previous years. Dame Linda said she
believed the increase was due to the Otago and Southland
health board merger in 2010.
The number of women from the Southern district who had
abortions since the merger had remained similar and the
increase in the number of abortions at Dunedin Hospital
showed women in the region had more access to local services
and was ''positive'' for women in the region, Dame Linda
''If they have access to local services they are able to be
supported locally and have a much more considered approach to
decision-making,'' she said.
''Access to local services helps to reduce the abortion
The numbers were ''falling, falling, falling'' in New Zealand
and Dame Linda said she expected the numbers at Dunedin
Hospital to mirror national trends in coming years.
Abortion Law Reform Association Southern district spokeswoman
Kerri Perwick said she was pleased to see women in the region
had increased access to local services.
''Local service is more convenient when taking time from work
and family, but we hope that access to affordable
contraception is widening, too,'' she said.
The report said harassment of clinic staff and patients
remained ''a significant concern to the committee'' and Mrs
Perwick believed ''more action on this issue is needed''.
Dunedin John Paul II Centre for Life co-ordinator Frank
Fischer said the increase in abortions performed in the
Southern district was ''concerning''.
''The lowering of the abortion rate is a trend that's
happening nationally and it would be nice if our number of
surgical abortions was trending down with the rest of
country; it hasn't in the last report,'' Mr Fischer said.
He believed there needed to be more funding for support
services for women who had ''unexpected pregnancies''.