New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Statement

26 November 2009

Family Planning Hamilton Request for a Licence to Dispense Mifepristone (Mifegyne ® RU 486) with Misoprostol for Early Medical Abortions [EMA].

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops' are opposed to and deeply concerned at the possible granting of a licence to dispense Mifepristone (Mifegyne® RU 486) with Misoprostol at the Hamilton Family Planning Clinic or at any other of the 29 New Zealand Family Planning Clinics for the purpose of procuring abortions. RU 486, when used with Misoprostol procures abortion without the need for surgical intervention.

It is morally wrong to kill the unborn by abortion whether by medical or surgical means.

To grant a licence for this Clinic or to any of the Family Planning Clinics in New Zealand for this purpose 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.

Hamilton Family Planning's proposed procedure for administering Mifepristone and Misoprostol could place women at risk, as they will abort unsupervised at home after .receiving the drug regime over a period of two days. Follow-up appointments will determine if the abortion has been complete.

Of further concern is the fact that this drug regimen has a number of well documented and acknowledged side effects; the procedure proposed by the clinic involves unsupervised abortions away from the clinic; and even the promoters of the drug acknowledge that it is still too 'new' to ascertain the long term consequences on future pregnancies.

We are particularly concerned about the dispensing of Mifepristone 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.

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.