NEW ZEALAND – Student reports outrageous abortion experience

Image: Dunedin Hospital

“A student trying to get an abortion has criticised Dunedin Hospital on South Island for a “disgusting” and “disrespectful” experience. She was undergoing her third abortion procedure for the same pregnancy, when this report was published, which she believes could have been avoided if information had been presented differently.

“A few weeks ago, Grace (not her real name) woke up feeling ill. She got tested for Covid, but that came back negative, so she decided to take a pregnancy test. It was positive. A few hours later, her doctor called her to inform her that her Covid test was positive, too. Her GP recommended she go to Dunedin Hospital to seek further help. Three days into Covid isolation, she was admitted to the hospital and put in a quarantine room, cut off from people like friends and family.

“In severe pain from both the cramps and Covid, Grace asked for some ibuprofen. This was denied by a health professional, who allegedly said: “I’m not going to give it to you because you’re pregnant.” This was despite Grace trying to tell him that she was going to be having an abortion. A nurse only helped her out only when she repeated the request later on.

Then she was told she had an ectopic pregnancy.… After being kept overnight to run some tests, however, it turned out that this test result was also a mistake. Her pregnancy was “normal”…

Grace was discharged with a course of misoprostol, to induce an abortion at home. She then took the course of misoprostol as instructed and experienced “extreme cramping”, including the last two pills, maximising the dose, but nothing happened. No abortion. Confused and worried, she turned to the Abortion NZ website for advice. It turns out that she should also have been given mifepristone before the misoprostol, which is recommended in the Ministry of Health’s clinical guidelines. But Grace was never prescribed mifepristone, or even told that it was an option.

“Upset, she asked the emergency department about this, but was instead questioned on the phone about whether she was “actually pregnant”. She was advised to just “wait it out” at home. After being “stuck alone for the past 24 hours following a traumatic unwanted pregnancy”, Grace said, “I found that extremely offensive.” The hospital declined to comment further, claiming the privacy of the patient in question.

“Infuriated, Grace contacted The Women’s Clinic, an abortion service provider, and told them about her situation. They informed her that she should have been prescribed mifepristone at the time. Following their advice, Grace lodged a complaint against the hospital…. Thankfully, she received excellent support from her partner, but she said the disrespect she received from several individuals in the hospital was outrageous.

Dunedin Hospital issued Grace an apology six weeks after her complaint was lodged. In it, they said they were “very sorry that you felt you did not receive appropriate care… [and that] you felt judged”. Concerns about the behaviour of hospital staff were not directly addressed, but the hospital promised to take these “administrative issues back to the department to consider for future improvements”. In a statement, Craig Ahston, GM of Internal Medicine Women’s & Children’s at the Hospital, said: “We are incredibly proud of our staff’s empathy and compassion that they demonstrate daily. We offer our sincere apologies to anyone who has had an individual experience that counters what we expect.”

“Coming out of this experience, Grace recommended that anyone needing an abortion should “go straight to The Women’s Clinic to find out their options. Thankfully, Grace’s third attempted abortion was successful.

SOURCE: Critic.te arohi, by Keegan Wells, Fox Meyer + PHOTO (no credit), 23 April 2022