Adopting from overseas. Fair or unfair?

On May 30, 2011, in Blog, by Simeon

The New Zealand Herald reported yesterday that more and more New Zealanders are looking overseas to adopt children.

They report that as the number of domestic adoptions plummet and as the waiting list grows, New Zealanders look overseas.

“Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand (Icanz) says more than 900 have been adopted in the past 20 years.

The children are not just from perennially popular Eastern European countries such as Russia, but also Cambodia, Chile, India, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, Tonga, Moldova, Hong Kong and even Kazakhstan.

AUT University senior psychology lecturer Rhoda Scherman said there was “high interest” in adopting from overseas and parents just had to prepare themselves for the hurdles they must overcome to do it.

Icanz spokeswoman Wendy Hawke said some couples had to endure up to three years of bureaucracy and spend between $10,000 and $50,000 on overseas travel, hotel bills and paperwork, but she wanted to tell Kiwis it was possible to achieve their dream of becoming parents. According to Child Youth and Family, the number of domestic adoptions has fallen 40 per cent in five years.

Scherman said possible reasons included the increased availability of abortions and contraception and a rise in infertility.”

Scherman has a point here, as can be seen from this table here, the number of abortions has increased significantly in New Zealand over the past 30 years, while at the same time adoption numbers have consistently fallen.

A 2008 stuff.co.nz article has comment from Christchurch GP Dr Hilary Cleland who said, “I guess people are really in crisis and they look at their options and termination might seem like a quick solution. A lot of people are attracted to it because of that. They just want to get out of the situation that they are in.”

The issue here is deeper than just over whether or not our adoption laws are good enough. It is about transforming the process through which a women goes in deciding whether to abort or not. It is about giving her all the relevant information that she needs, so that she can make an informed decision, and it is about giving her the time to be able to look rationally at the options she has in front of her.

While there is no one easy solution to this whole issue, we must create processes which are good for women and good for their unborn children and also which are good for society. It is unfair that thousands of would-be parents around New Zealand can not adopt because we have laws which create a process which drive women to a decision which they may not desire had they had better information about adoption. It is unfair that adoption only becomes available to those who can afford to spend tens of thousands to go overseas to find a child.

Adoption is a choice that the parent/s of the child have to make, and we shouldn’t force women to adopt, but we shouldn’t keep women uninformed by pushing them through a process which leads to an abortion. This is also unfair.

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Informed consent1 Sunday Star Times runs another tragic story about abortion without informed consent

This is cross posted from the Culture Vulture

The Sunday Star Times has today published yet another story about informed consent, abortion, a young girl, and a lack of parental consent…

Two years ago Natalie’s daughter discovered she was pregnant after taking a store-brought pregnancy test. A scan by a doctor confirmed the test, revealing she was more than three months’ pregnant.

Natalie, who was overseas at the time, said her daughter didn’t feel she could confide in anyone and decided to have a termination.

Four weeks later, and after a number of consultations, her doctor arranged for her to see a counsellor at Hastings Hospital. Her daughter told the Star-Times she was given a piece of paper at the hospital and asked to read and sign it.

She said no one went through it with her or explained what it meant.

“I quickly skimmed through it… to get it over and done with,” she said.

During the session the counsellor contacted Wellington Hospital and arranged for her to head down to the hospital that day, as Hastings Hospital cannot perform second-trimester abortions.

“At no time were the pros and cons of having a termination or keeping the baby discussed with her. They never sat down and went over anything like that,” Natalie said.

“She just said, she got asked, `Do you not think you can be a mother?’ and she said no.” Natalie acknowledged more information may not have changed her daughter’s mind as “at the time she didn’t want the baby”.

Her daughter was given petrol and accommodation vouchers, then drove to Napier to pack her bags. Her boyfriend’s sister drove her to Wellington.

Natalie wondered why her daughter wasn’t at home with the nanny, so rang her estranged husband. When he discovered where his daughter was, he drove to Wellington.

“He was devastated,” she said.

What is really important to note about this incident is that as soon as the father spoke to the girl and assured her of his support, the young girl changed her mind and decided to keep the baby. Tragically though, she had already been given the first stage of the abortion, the cervix dilation and labour inducing drug (even thought she hadn’t been fully informed about how the procedure would actually work).

She went home intending to keep the baby, but sadly she miscarried the baby a month later – which is one of the possible outcomes of taking the cervix dilation/labour inducing drug that she took.

She now has her baby’s name, along with a set of tiny footprints, tattooed on her back as a memorial to the baby she lost.

In summation, the three serious issues we have here are:

1. a FIFTEEN year old girl whisked off for a serious surgical procedure without parental consent
2. a lack of proper and accurate information about abortion supplied to the girl (so no proper informed consent was present)
3. young girl and her parents left to deal with the trauma and pain of this event

This tragic and concerning incident could have been totally avoided if parental consent was a legal requirement in NZ, and it provides a very clear (and almost certainly very common) example of how a lack of parental consent is actually NOT in the best interests of the young women it is supposedly intended to protect.

It also demonstrates the fact that many young (and older) women are simply not supplied with the full facts about abortion in this country, and therefore its hard to truly claim that informed consent is actually present in a lot of NZ abortions.

Yep folks, the momentum for law changes around abortion and informed consent and parental consent is definitely growing, and the louder and harder that the pro-choice lobby fights such changes the more it exposes that they really aren’t interested in protecting women, but rather protecting abortion, even abortion without informed consent (i.e. a lack of real ‘choice’ involved).

 

Nationwide JustThink campaign launched

On May 23, 2011, in Blog, by Alisdair

Today ProLife NZ launched its nationwide ‘JUST THINK’ campaign on university campuses throughout the country.

The purpose of the ‘JUST THINK’ campaign is simply to get people to think about the abortion issue.  Abortion is regarded as a taboo topic and therfore there is generally nothing in society to prompt people to think about the issues involved. The campaign seeks to present the issue of abortion in a logical and non-confrontational manner, giving people access to the information necessary to reflect, discuss and develop their own views on the issue.

If you haven’t been able to help out with the campaign on campus, we would love your help on Facebook.

We  have launched a Facebook page for the campaign:

facebook.com/justthinknz

Please help us out by doing the following:

1. LIKE the JUST THINK Facebook page
2. D onate your Facebook Profile picture for the day - on the Facebook page there is a section set up enable you to do this.
3. Donate your Facebook status so that you can get your friends thinking about the issue.

 

Nationwide JustThink campaign launched

On May 18, 2011, in Blog, by Miriam

 
JustThink poster Nationwide JustThink campaign launched

Today we launched our nationwide JustThink campaign on university campuses throughout the country. 

The purpose of the JustThink campaign is simply to get people to think about the abortion issue.  Abortion is regarded as a taboo topic and therefore there is generally nothing in society to prompt people to think about the issues involved. The campaign seeks to present the issue of abortion in a logical and non-confrontational manner, giving people access to the information necessary to reflect, discuss and develop their own views on the issue. 

If you haven’t been able to help out with the campaign on campus, we would love your help on Facebook.

We have launched a Facebook page for the campaign:

facebook.com/justthinknz

Please help us out by doing the following:

1. LIKE the JustThink Facebook page
2. Donate your Facebook Profile picture for the day - on the Facebook page there is a section set up to enable you to do this.
3. Mention the site in your Facebook status so that you can get your friends thinking about the issue.

 

This is cross posted from the Culture Vulture

Yesterday the main story on the front page of the Sunday Star Times newspaper was about schools arranging secret abortions for their female students…

A mother is angry her 16-year-old daughter had a secret abortion arranged by a school counsellor.

Helen, not her real name, found out about the termination four days after it had happened. “I was horrified. Horrified that she’d had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counsellors had felt that she shouldn’t talk to us,” she said.

She had suspected something was wrong, but her daughter insisted her tears were over everyday teenage dramas.

But Helen confronted her daughter’s friends, who said the counsellor had taken the girl for a scan and to doctors. “I didn’t know that they could do that.”

Sadly this isn’t anything new, the law allowing these secret abortions has been in place for many years now, and while it’s great that one of the big newspapers is finally giving this issue some coverage, I am sure that I am not the only New Zealand parent who actually wants something concrete done about this problem at a legislative level.

The simple fact is that schools should not be able to involve themselves in such complex medical decisions as this, and certainly not without any knowledge of the parents, who are left to pick up the pieces after a school counsellor decides what is best for their daughter.

The simple fact is that this law is totally out of step with best practice regarding schools and medicine – a school counsellor couldn’t take someone’s daughter for dental surgery, or an organ transplant without parental consent, so why the heck should they be able to arrange such a serious procedure as a surgical abortion without any parental consent whatsoever?!

As a parent of daughters this issue really angers me, because it means that the current law does not actually support me as a parent, instead it actively works against me and leaves my family vulnerable to predatory or highly invasive and unethical actions on the part of school counsellors, medical professionals and possibly even teachers who are sexual offenders looking to cover the tracks of their abuse.

The article also included comment from Christchurch lawyer Kathryn Dalziel…

“When it comes to contraception and abortion, they [counsellors] would need the consent of the person before they could share information with a parent or the school,” she said.

“If that protection disappeared, you can pretty well guarantee the young person won’t tell the counsellor a thing – particularly the thing you need them to talk about.”

Talk about shonky reasoning and false dichotomies.

Firstly, why would girls suddenly stop talking to school counselors if the law required them to get parental consent about issues such as abortion and contraception – and wouldn’t that mean that students would have to embark down the correct path, which is to tell their parents and get their support?

And it’s one thing for a student to come and talk to a school counsellor about these issues, but it’s a whole other thing when those school counselors start arranging abortions and taking students to get scans, etc.

Even if a school counselor truly was committed to the ‘let’s call this our little secret’ ideology, then why couldn’t the law still be changed to prevent counselors from actually arranging or participating in any way in the abortion?

Surely Dalziel can see that it’s a serious and unethical conflict of interest to have a law which allows the person doing to secret counseling to also be able to arrange and transport their child client to an abortion procedure?

At the very least one would expect that the legislation would prevent the secret counselor from participating in the act they are counseling a student about undertaking in secret – such a simple change would also provide another layer of accountability to help protect girls against teachers who are sexual offenders using this clause in the law to try and cover their tracks.

Right, we’ve had some decent media coverage, what I want to know now is what the politicians, who are supposed to serve the public good, are actually going to do about resolving this serious inadequacy in the NZ laws.

 

Current updates

On May 11, 2011, in Blog, by matt

Just a quick update of what’s happening at Canterbury: a large part of the university is now open, there are a few departments which are still undergoing assessment or getting fixed up. The UCSA building unfortunately shows no signs of opening anytime soon – correct me if I’m wrong.

ProLife Canterbury congratulates Pro-Life Auckland for its reaffiliation to AUSA despite opposition.

I would like to bring people’s attention to the currently existing ProLife NZ groups: Pro-Life Auckland, ProLife Canterbury, LifeChoice Vic & ProLife Waikato. Each of them have their own separate facebook groups, so feel free to ‘like’ each of them.

ProLife NZ (Currently 322+ ‘likes’)
Facebook
Website

Pro-Life Auckland (Currently 84 ‘likes’)
Facebook
Website/Page

ProLife Canterbury (Currently 29 ‘likes’)
Facebook
Website/Page

LifeChoice Vic (Currently 32 ‘likes’)
Facebook
Website/Page

ProLife Waikato (Currently 40 ‘likes’)
Facebook
Website/Page

I’m going to be spending some time building up the website the a word while simultaneously blogging on here. So keep your eyes open.

-Matt

 

Enough of ethnic cleansing in the womb

On May 9, 2011, in Blog, by Miriam

Mike Sullivan writes about a group of  New Zealanders who are calling authorities to account for a genocidal campaign.

Downs syndrome Enough of ethnic cleansing in the womb

Every year, particularly in Asia, thousands of abortions of unborn girls are carried out, solely because they are girls. This is the sad phenomenon known as “gendercide”, a term that, taking into account other forms of violence against women, even the liberal Economist magazine says is no exaggeration.

The term echoes the word “genocide”, familiar to all of us as a description of Nazi campaign to eliminate the Jews, and of more recent murderous racial or ethnic cleansing campaigns such as that carried out in Rwanda in 1994.

In recent decades another campaign against a particular group of people has gathered momentum. These are unborn children around the world who have Down syndrome, a genetic disorder which gives the person certain well-known features, such as a rounder face and almond-shaped eyes, and involves varying degrees of intellectual and sometimes physical disability.

Government initiated and funded programmes of pre-natal genetic testing to detect this condition have resulted in around 90 per cent of these babies in some western countries having their lives terminated in utero. Surely, it is no exaggeration to see this pattern as a form of genocide — “geneticide”, perhaps.

New Zealand is no exception to the “rule” that says babies with this disorder should not be born. It is not a rule written in so many words, but the words that are used in official and research documents clearly have that intent, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that mothers with an unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome are automatically offered an abortion.

When the national antenatal screening programme for Down syndrome was relaunched in this country with “quality improvements” in February, a number of people decided it was time to challenge the government on the validity of its commitment to screening.

Right to Life NZ lodged a formal complaint with the Prime Minister that the programme for Down syndrome is an instrument of genocide, a crime against humanity. The Health Minister wrote back blandly advising that the government has no plans to cease the screening programme.

A group of twelve concerned parents and Right to Life NZ have since approached the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, asking him to take our case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. We believe that antenatal screening for Down syndrome violates not only New Zealand human rights law and abortion law, but also the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Article 2 of the UN Convention defines genocide as any one of a number of acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”. One of these actions is “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”.

Intent is legally established through the test of foresight of particular consequences and a desire to act so that those consequences occur; it is covered under Article 30 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Although the government states that the reduction of births of people with Down syndrome is not the purpose of the programme it is clear that they had foresight that this would be a consequence, and this meets the test of intent under international law. They have proceeded to act on this basis without any attempts to mitigate a reduction in the number of births of people with Down syndrome.

Government documents confirm that the screening programme would prevent births of people with Down syndrome via selective abortion, leading to the destruction, in part, of that group through a significant reduction in the number of their births. In the Memorandum to Cabinet dated 23 October 2007, it is stated:

There is the potential for activities associated with improving the quality of antenatal screening for Down syndrome to have a negative impact on people with disabilities, including….decrease in the number of babies born with Down syndrome. International experience suggests that as a result of screening and diagnostic tests, up to 90 percent of women who receive an antenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome will choose to terminate their pregnancies.

The memorandum also says:

The purpose of screening is to provide women with information about their pregnancy to enable them to make informed choices. This information may help women to decide whether to continue with or terminate the pregnancy.

People with Down syndrome are a stable and permanent group of people and fall within the status of a protected group under the UN Convention. The UN’s Akayesa judgement, relating to genocide in Rwanda states:

The Chamber found that it was necessary, above all, to respect the intent of the drafters of the Genocide Convention which, according to the travaux préparatoires, was clearly to protect any stable and permanent group.

People with Down syndrome are also genetically linked through their commonality in having a third 21st chromosome and share the same physical characteristics. They can be defined as both an ethnic group and a racial group, both of which relate to people distinguished on the basis of common genetically linked characteristics and physical characteristics. The screening programme is based on the premise that people with Down syndrome can be distinguished by their third 21st chromosome. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group is established through the use of selective abortion.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal has also been asked to determine whether the screening programme discriminates against people with Down syndrome. Part 1A of the (New Zealand) Human

Rights Act 1993 prevents the government from discrimination on the basis of disability. This issue has recently been raised with a formal complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner, who concluded that “the option of screening should be presented in a way that is not discriminatory towards people with Down syndrome” and found that the NSU information sheets “could be more comprehensive and accessible”. He has written to the Director-General of Health suggesting improvements to the NSU’s information resources.

We consider that the commissioner’s response supports our view that the programme is not being managed in a balanced way. This raises serious concerns for us around the discriminatory nature of the policy for the screening programme. The presence, form, presentation and management of the programme sends a clear message to people with Down syndrome that their lives are not valued and reinforces discrimination towards them, clearly breaching the Human Rights Act. Simply by targeting a group of people for genetic screening distinguishes them as being less worthy than others.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal has also been asked to consider whether the programme is lawful in terms of the Crimes Act 1961. Under that Act abortions are excused for rare and serious reasons. In relation to foetal abnormalities, an abortion may be authorised where “there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would be so physically or mentally abnormal as to be seriously handicapped”. Down syndrome is not a serious handicap. It is internationally recognised as a mild to moderate developmental delay. Our view is that aborting an unborn child based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome is a crime under the Crimes Act 1961.

Our desire is for the New Zealand Government to promote love and respect for those with Down syndrome and for them to be treated with the same human dignity and respect afforded to their fellow citizens. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights eloquently articulates “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. The rights of the people with Down syndrome are sanctioned in law; we are asking that these be actualised in practice.

The government should promote a culture of life by ensuring that families who have unborn children with Down syndrome receive compassion and are given all the encouragement and support needed to bring their child to birth. After the birth of their child they should be provided with the services necessary to assist them in providing for the special needs of their child.

Mike Sullivan is the father of an almost three year old girl with Down syndrome. He is a chartered professional engineer who also advocates for people with Down syndrome to be treated with the same human dignity and respect afforded to their fellow citizens. If you are interested in the proceedings and would like more information please contact Mike Sullivan at mike.b.sullivan@xtra.co.nz

 

Prolife Auckland re-affiliates

On May 4, 2011, in Blog, by Simeon

ProLife Auckland Abortion Prolife Auckland re affiliates


Prolife Auckland – the pro-life club at the University of Auckland has successfully re-affiliated today with the AUSA (Auckland University Student Association).

The affiliation process at the AUSA requires a vote at an open forum in the AUSA quad with AUSA members voting.

Today there were two clubs on the agenda to affiliate who were focused around abortion. Auckland Pro-choice and Prolife Auckland.

Prolife Auckland was firstly affiliated last year after removing a 8 year discriminatory ban against pro-life clubs.

Auckland pro-choice is a new group set up this year. (As you can see they pretty much take the style of our name – APA referencing would have been nice, but we don’t mind).

I got up and spoke in favour of Auckland Pro-choice affiliating. I believe it is every group’s right to be able to affiliate and have their views put across on campus, where ideas are meant to be discussed openly. I asked all pro-life club supporters to also vote for them and they were affiliated with no votes against.

However, they did not return us that favour.

A vote was taken which we won by 46 votes to 26 on whether Prolife Auckland should be allowed to affiliate. Again we reiterated that this was not about whether pro-choice or pro-life is the correct view, it was about whether a club should be able to put across its view and students be able to exercise their freedom of speech.

Their only argument against us, which they did not prove, was that they accussed us of causing significant emotional harm to their members and one in particular. As I pointed out, the debate that we are engaging is very controversial, and we have to understand that, but that should not mean we don’t speak about it.

Too often society leaves important issues unaddressed, so shutting down a clubs ability to discuss a controversial issue is not going to help that.

A huge thank-you to the ProLife Auckland team for making this happen and also for everyone who came along and supported us re-affiliating. We are looking forward to what we will be doing in the coming year! Watch this space!

Finally, in attendance was a Dame. Dame Margaret Sparrow was there eating scones and having a cup of tea. We hope that she enjoyed watching democracy in action and seeing students get passionate about their right to freedom of speech. Of course Dame Margaret Sparrow is a long advocate of abortion, so we hope that she saw that the next generation of New Zealanders are prepared to stand up and say abortion is not ok.