NZ Herald 21 Nov 2011
The Medical Council has stopped an attempt to force anti-abortion doctors to refer patients to others who are prepared to assess them. High costs have forced the decision to withdraw from a Court of Appeal case to defend a draft guideline on abortion and conscience. The decision has earned the council a rebuke from pro-abortion lobbyists. A group of anti-abortion doctors took the council to the High Court last November. The Herald understands Finance Minister Bill English’s wife Mary is among the group. Justice Alan MacKenzie directed the council to reconsider the guideline, which he said would have exceeded doctors’ statutory obligations.
He said doctors with a conscience objection to abortion could, when approached by a patient seeking one, either:
* Inform the patient that she could go to another doctor or family planning clinic, or
* Arrange a referral, if the doctor’s conscience permitted, to another doctor.
This medical assessment is just the first step of obtaining an abortion.