Right to Life commends the Abortion Supervisory Committee for promoting protection for clinicians who refuse to perform or assist in abortions on the grounds of conscience. The Committee has recently written to all of the district health boards in New Zealand reminding them of their duty to allow doctors, nurses and others to refuse to perform abortions or assist in them when it is contrary to their conscience. Right to Life believes that there may be many nurses working in Public Hospitals that provide abortions who are assisting in abortions against their conscience who are unaware of the legal protection provided for them.
Parliament provided protection for the conscience of clinicians when passing the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act in 1977.
Recently a technician employed by the Canterbury District Health Board approached Right to Life seeking help. She had been summoned by her employer to a disciplinary meeting and threatened with dismissal if she did not perform the duty of assisting in preparing instruments to be used for abortions. The technician refused to perform the duty as she was totally opposed to the killing of unborn children. Right to Life advised the complainant that she had protection under section 46 of the Act. Her employer subsequently withdrew the threat of dismissal and respected her right to refuse the duty on conscience grounds. Right to Life brought this distressing incident to the attention of the Committee requesting that the Committee take action by writing to all District Health Boards, which they subsequently did.
This is excellent news – well done to Ken Orr and the team at Right to Life with which I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the board until my recent shift to the United States.
This is a victory for proponents of freedom and opponents of abortion.