Doubts about your pregancy – just try harder

Women’s right to terminate a pregnancy – when they are having problems with it – is newly under attack in New Zealand.

New Medical Council guidelines, “Beliefs and Medical Practise” clarify what doctors responsibilities are:

The draft guidelines say that regardless of their personal beliefs, doctors must ensure a pregnant woman having doubts about her pregnancy is told abortion is among the options available to her, and is given information on it and the other options.

It is the first time the issue of personal beliefs and abortion has been addressed in Medical Council guidelines, and follows a similar move in Britain.

Doctors can still refuse to provide abortion or contraception options on the grounds of their beliefs, so all this is actually changing is that anti-abortion doctors will have to inform pregnant women of all possible options.

The new guidelines have been taken to the High Court by a group of anti-abortion doctors for judicial review, and won’t be available until after that decision is reached.  Dr Mary English, wife of deputy Prime Minister Bill, is one of them, and the Catholic News Agency is calling this a “pro-life” action.

Dovetails nicely with Ken Orr and Right to Life’s legal campaign against the Abortion Supervisory Committee, attempting to restrict access to abortion in New Zealand.  Or their concerns over Family Planning’s potential ability to offer women terminations.

Or even, looking overseas, with massive sporting events like the Superbowl accepting anti-abortion ads as an addition to their array of offensive sexist commercials.  So that sports fans can be quite clear on what women’s role is – from looking purdy for the big muscley men to having their babies whether we want to or not.

On Sunday, as nearly 100 million Americans gather to watch the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, they’ll be treated to something they’re probably not expecting: an ad speaking out against abortion. The spot, produced by the extreme right-wingers at Focus on the Family, features Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, who claims she was advised by doctors to abort fetal Tim but “chose life” instead. Their message? You should, too.

The ad caused quite a stir, since neither CBS nor the Super Bowl had ever before accepted a so-called “issue advocacy ad.”  100 thousand plus emails and phone calls from fans – 40% of whom are women – urged CBS to pull it.

We won’t have the numbers to have that sort of reaction to continuing anti-abortion activity in New Zealand – but we need to keep an eye on it, those of us who believe women need to have control over our bodies.

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