Abortion phone service In New Zealand closes because of lack of money

New Zealand’s 0800 ABORTION telephone abortion service has closed because of a lack of adequate funding. It was started in June 2015 to fill a gap in abortion services.By dialling the number, those seeking to end a pregnancy could be offered counselling and have the necessary medical tests and abortion clinic appointment organised. Patients left a message and were phoned back by a nurse and doctors. The first call back from a doctor was to make a formal referral, rather than the patient having to find a family planning practitioner or willing GP. The second was from a certifying consultant who assessed if the patient met the criteria for lawful abortion. The discussion with the required second certifying consultant was face-to-face when the service began.For funding, the service relied on donations by certifying abortion consultants of part of the fees they received from the Ministry of Justice. Unfortunately, the model of funding this service used continued to fall short.Callers to the service are being told that it is currently closed and not accepting new patients.The Abortion Law Reform Association NZ said they were saddened by the closure of the service. “We hear the line was actually a lifeline for lots of people, and met a need that didn’t actually become clear until the line went live. There are a number of anti-choice phone lines out there, and it’s a sad state of affairs that a service offering factual, non-judgemental, non-biased information like this one has had to close… The leading barrier to getting an abortion in main centres is the statutory process, but in regional centres an added hurdle is that access to abortion is extremely limited and the phone service helped address that. There’s a need for something to fill the gap in those smaller towns for a start and also to provide information.”A statement from Dr Simon Snook, who started the phone service, said: “Our patients took considerably more nursing time than we expected and as such the referral line could not fund itself… We are committed to doing this properly so it was not an option to cut corners and reduce the time we spent with women. As such the line is mothballed pending consideration of other ways to fund.SOURCE: NZ Herald, by Martin Johnston, 11 September 2016 + VISUAL