A Southland anti-abortion group will begin weekly protests
outside Southland Hospital from next month.
The demonstrations would be "peaceful and
non-confrontational" and held on public land, Southlanders
For Life spokesman and Winton Catholic parish priest Fr
Vaughan Leslie said.
The Southern District Health Board (SDHB) began a termination
service at the hospital about two months ago and has said it
expects about 280 abortions to be done annually.
The demonstrations, which would last for about an hour each
week, would be a "silent witness", Fr Leslie said.
"We will not be loud, but we will be very visible." The SDHB
would not say how often terminations were carried out, he
Fr Leslie had "no idea" how many people would take part in
the demonstrations. A public meeting earlier this year
opposing the SDHB plans attracted 200 people and 400 rallied
outside the hospital in protest.
Until now, Southland women have travelled to Dunedin Hospital
for abortions. Asked if women going to Southland Hospital for
terminations could feel intimidated by a group of protesters,
Fr Leslie said they might.
But he said he believed in democracy and the right of those
who opposed abortion to speak out or demonstrate against it.
The group believes the board should have consulted the public
over its plans and is seeking a ruling on that from the
SDHB chief medical officer David Tulloch has already said the
board is satisfied it has followed correct process and did
not have to consult.