by NZ CATHOLIC staff
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn is disturbed at a move to allow abortion consultation over the phone. Pro-life groups slammed it as “irresponsible”, “unprofessional” and
Wairarapa abortion doctor Simon Snook has set up a free national phone consultation service because, he said, of potentially harmful delays faced by many New Zealand women seeking
to end a pregnancy, the NZ Herald reported.
Bishop Dunn said: “It is distressing that we are still aborting the equivalent of 500 classrooms of young New Zealanders each year. Such a tragic loss of potential and talent for our nation.”
He said: “Even more disturbing is the fact that the New Zealand Medical Council is apparently permitting the diagnosis of the need for an abortion to occur over the phone without the bother of having to arrange for any face-to-face consultation.
“Is Dr Snook also prescribing antidepressants and other medication for mental illness over the phone without ever meeting the callers?” he asked.
Family Life International expressed disgust at the methods being used by Dr Snook to further his business interests.
“While he may say the phone service will ensure women receive an abortion more quickly, therefore being less risky for her, he really is concerned about lining his pockets,” Family Life said in a statement.
“Each woman must see two certifying consultants, each of whom gets paid a nice sum from the government, before she can have the abortion. One of those certifying consultants will speak to her over the phone, and as he and only one other is on board at the moment, that could be a good investment for him.”
Family Life said they noted that Dr Snook is involved in Istar, which imports the drug Mifegyne (used for early medical abortions) and surgical abortion equipment.
Right to Life patron Dr Norman Maclean, MNZM, a retired obstetrician and gynaecologist from Invercargill, said he was appalled at the development, describing it as unprofessional, unethical, shameful and a gross trivialising of a serious legal process.
NZ Catholic left a voicemail message for Dr Snook and texted him on June 5, but had not heard from him by press time.
Right to life spokesperson Ken Orr said their group is emphatically opposed to Dr Snook’s move.
“Right to Life asks how can a doctor claim to diagnose serious mental ill health in a woman he has never met, whom he does not know, whose medical history he does not have, whom he cannot examine and whom he may never see again?” he said.
Voice for Life national president Bernard Moran said Dr Snook wants to make what a senior nurse had described as an abortion conveyor belt, go even faster.
“We have members who have had abortions, and I meet counsellors who regularly console post-abortive women and girls, who have one complaint in common. They felt rushed into a decision
that they now bitterly regret, they weren’t counselled on other options, they were misled about the reality of the baby they were carrying: that is, ‘It’s just a blob’,” he said.
“In short, they were denied time to consider their options and denied informed consent about the aftereffects.”
The same concern was echoed by FLI. Dame Colleen Bayer said there are other options, such as life-affirming ones as presented by Family Life Pregnancy Centre.