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What is an abortion?

An abortion is when a pregnancy is ended early, without the natural birth of the child and before it is ready to survive outside of the uterus. A developing human usually takes about thirty-nine weeks to grow and be born. - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Medically, abortion means loss of the fetus, for any reason, before it is able to survive outside the womb. The term covers accidental or spontaneous ending, or miscarriage, of pregnancy as well as deliberate termination.

How abortion works in NZ

Following the passing of the Abortion Legislation Act 2020 on March 23rd the following rules now apply:

  • A woman who is not more than 20 weeks pregnant may seek abortion from a health practitioner.
  • A woman seeking an abortion past 20 weeks must obtain approval from a health practitioner, who decides whether the procedure is "clinically appropriate" and consults with at least one other qualified practitioner.
So what does that mean in practice?
  • If you are 20 weeks or less pregnant you may select an abortion service provider and arrange for the termination of your pregnancy. How this will be carried out depends upon the time, number of weeks, you have been pregnant. If you are less than 9 weeks pregnant you will be able to choose a medical abortion. If you are over 9 weeks, you will need to have a surgical abortion
  • Over 20 weeks pregnant - Not normally performed here in NZ. You will need to consult a medical professional who will ascertain your eligibility and also involve the consultation of a second professional to agree with their assessment of proceeding as "clinically appropriate" in the circumstances.
If you are pregnant, your body is already undergoing changes. Termination of the pregnancy is an irrevocable decision and it thus needs to be carefully considered having regard to all the relevant information. We have trained staff available to assist you and ensure you have all the information needed to make a fully informed choice.
"Don't make a permanent decision on a temporary emotion"
Please contact us if you would like more information or need support in the process of informing your decision.

Emotional Impacts

Women should be informed of the range of emotional responses they may experience before, during and after an abortion.

Possible psychological and emotional responses after an abortion may include any or many of the following:

  • Sadness or feelings of loss
  • Numbness – a tendency to avoid thinking about the abortion
  • Increase in unhealthy activities like – alcohol/drug abuse, eating disorders, cutting
  • Depression – longer than two weeks
  • Anxiety, panic attacks & phobias
  • Suicidal or self-harming thoughts or attempts
  • Obsessive thoughts about the abortion procedure - flashbacks – or blocking the recall of the experience
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Nightmares or difficulty sleeping
  • Tendency to startle easily or feel overly alert
  • Obsessive control over people, procedures or things
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Loss of interest in significant activities
  • Inability to perform normal self-care activities
  • Loss of interest in dreams and goals
  • Inability to function normally at school or work
  • Problems caring for home, children or partner
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Smothering or distancing oneself from one’s children
  • Problems with sex and physical intimacy
  • Avoidance of pregnant women, babies or children
  • Distress when exposed to abortion or pro-life topic
  • Inappropriate anger

Abortion and Counselling (please note PCC does not provide abortion counselling services)

Counselling has been defined as: ‘the process of enhancing a subject’s ability to assess and understand the index situation, evaluate options and make an informed choice or decision. This entails sensitive provision of comprehensive information in a nondirective or nonjudgemental manner.’ 

Health practitioners caring for a woman requesting abortion should advise a woman of her right to seek counselling and facilitate her referral to a suitably trained and credentialled professional whose counselling practice meets these standards.

Counselling services are not  mandatory for women seeking abortion services. Given the magnitude of the decision, Pregnancy Choice encourages all those considering abortion to seek competent counselling that should include:

  • Counselling options available to women and significant others (partners and whānau) should include:
    • pre-decision/pregnancy options counselling
    • pre-abortion counselling
    • post-abortion counselling. 
  • All women should be given the opportunity to be seen on their own to address the issues of coercion and to facilitate honest and open discussion. The process should be safe and respectful.
Extracts from Interim Standards for Abortion Services - 4 Apr-2020

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