Sunday, 17 August 2014

My Decision. Kei a au te Whakataunga.

It’s been a long time in the making, but today marks the public launch of a new web project aimed at informing people about health care professionals who object to or refuse to provide reproductive health services, like contraception, abortion, non-directive and non-biased counselling, pharmacy products and so on.

Called My Decision/Kei a au te Whakataunga the site grew out of failed efforts to get the people who should be doing the job of keeping patients informed, such as the Medical Council of New Zealand, to do it. There’s a lot of background about the long road travelled on this issue here in Aotearoa New Zealand over at Alranz’s blog, but this is broader than abortion rights (and not an Alranz project, though they’re supporters. By way of probably obvious disclosure, I’m involved in this project).

Below, you’ll find the media release that went out this morning, and at the end of this post, a couple of interesting links to recent discussion about the issue of conscientious objection/refusal to treat/conscientious obstruction (supporters of reproductive justice are coming up with some interesting ways of describing whatever this is).

We hope people will spread the word across social media, networks, etc. There are some downloadable fliers on the site itself. And, of course, let the site know about providers who object.

My Decision. Kei a au te Whakataunga.

MEDIA RELEASE                                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
17 August 2014


A new grassroots project aimed at sharing information about doctors and other medical professionals who hinder reproductive health-care access because of moral or religious reasons is being launched today online.

Called My Decision/Kei a au te Whakataunga (, the project invites people seeking services like contraception or abortion to report any experiences of hostile or unhelpful health professionals to the website.

But the site is not just for patients. My Decision spokesperson Terry Bellamak said organisers were also inviting doctors and others who “conscientiously object” to some services to list what options they do and do not offer.

“From the standpoint of consumer protection, it makes no sense to keep potential patients in the dark about their health care providers’ intentions. ‘Conscientious objectors’ who agree can demonstrate their good faith by registering on our site,” she said.

Ms. Bellamak said the project, which has been a year in the making, was sparked in part by the 2010 court judgment that expanded conscientious objection rights of doctors, and the Medical Council’s subsequent decision not to mount a challenge, nor to publish doctors’ conscientious objection status on their website.

Since then, there have been several worrying cases, including one in Blenheim last year, when a woman was denied contraception by a doctor who was reported as saying he didn't “want to interfere with the process of producing life".

“In the spirit of the old ‘Hot and Cold Doctor files’ compiled by women’s health activists in the 1970s, we decided we’d have to do this work ourselves,” Ms. Bellamak said.

Further Reading:

Conscience 'not always a force for good': women seeking contraception or abortion neednurses with 'conscientious commitment', rather than moral objection. by Rose Stewart, in the NZ Nurses’ Organisation Journal.


Anonymous said...

Will you also expose health workers & others who pressure poor women & teenagers to get abortions or nah? Stick some Maori language on it but don't bother to deal with Maori women's issues.

Anon coz idgaf if you publish it.

K said...

Instead of pretending to be powerless you could always submit information about being pressured to abort, adopt out etc.

Anonymous said...

I suggest a similar list for religious bodies that reject same sex marriage. That would make it much easier for gay couples to target the particular churches that are not prepared to carry out what is a legal activity.

AlisonM said...

FYI, please follow the comment rules and if you are anon, use some kind of handle.
@anonymous Aug 20, I most certainly agree that any targeting or pressuring particular groups or individuals with respect to reproductive health care is not on. I know pro-choice groups spoke out against, for example, the Govt plan to target long-acting contraception at, in particular, daughters of people on benefits. Obviously trolls with agendas can be an issue at a site like MyDecision, but the ethos of the site is, per the name, that the decision should be up to the individual person / that the individual has their own solution, without pressure either way. As @K suggests, if this has happened to you, the site has a link to the Health and Disability Commissioner's formal complaints page, but obviously feel free to report to the site. (The focus is on first-person stories, rather than people reporting other people's stories, fyi.)