1 Nov 2010

Medical Council defends abortion guidelines

9:09 pm on 1 November 2010

The Medical Council is defending its guidelines on what advice doctors are required to give to patients about abortion, a question that is the subject of High Court action in Wellington.

The action has been taken by some doctors who object to providing abortion advice.

Their lawyer told the High Court on Monday that even the abortion legislation recognises a doctor's right to conscientiously object to involvement in the giving of advice.

Harry Waalkens said the Bill of Rights also upheld people's rights to freedom of conscience and religious belief, but the Medical Council's guidelines did not reflect that.

Mr Waalkens said the high abortion rate in New Zealand showed women had no trouble accessing the service and the new guidelines were contrary to those adopted in other countries.

However, lawyers for the Medical Council say the new guidelines are lawful and strike the right balance between doctors' and patients' rights.

They say a person with a conscientious objection can legally refuse to perform an abortion or assist in one, but that person is required to give information about abortion if a patient requests it.

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