Abortion Legislation Update April 2020

21 Apr 2020

Tēnā koe,

COVID-19

The abortion law reform and the COVID-19 pandemic coinciding in March has been challenging for the sector. It is essential that women can access information and advice about abortion services, and that abortion services continue to be provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very appreciative of the work being undertaken by the sector to provide the best services possible in the circumstances.
Information for woman considering an abortion
Information and advice for women considering an abortion is available through a number of channels:
·        Information is available online at https://health.govt.nz/abortion
·        The Ministry of Health’s Abortion Line can be contacted on 0800 499 500.  This service is available 8am to 5pm on weekdays and 10am to 2pm on weekends.
·        Healthline can be contacted on 0800 611 116. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have interpreters available.
·        Family Planning are undertaking virtual referrals / consultations during the COVID pandemic.
·        GPs are essential services during the COVID pandemic and can continue to provide advice.
Information for health practitioners
Information for health practitioners is available at https://health.govt.nz/our-work/regulation-health-and-disability-system/abortion-legislation-information-health-practitioners

Standards of care
Interim Standards for Abortion Services in New Zealand were published yesterday and are available at www.health.govt.nz/publication/interim-standards-abortion-services-new-zealand.

These interim standards are based on the standards from the previous Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) ‘Standards of Care for Women Requesting an Abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand’. The Ministry has made changes to the text of the ASC Standards where necessary to ensure the interim standards reflect the new legislation and its implications. Four new standards have been added in the interim standards to ensure compliance with the amended CSA Act.

Over the course of 2020, the standards will be aligned with broader health and disability services standards, supported by service specific guidance. We will work with the sector to ensure that the new standards continue to provide safe care for women while reflecting modern models of care for abortion services.  There will be opportunities for inclusion of a range of voices in setting the new standards, including DHBs, providers, the current and future workforce, consumers, and Māori.  

Abortion notifications
Our online abortion notifications system is now live.  Abortion notification submissions are due within one month of the procedure. Please email alr@health.govt.nz if you are an abortion service provider and require access to the new notification forms.  

Models of care
The new legislation has provided opportunities for innovation and to review and evolve models of abortion care which will benefit women in the future.  Many DHBs are considering changes to models of care that are enabled by the revised legislation.

Ongoing engagement
The Ministry will continue to use this email channel to provide advice about implementation.

If you have any queries you can contact the Abortion Law Reform Team at alr@health.govt.nz or call the Ministry of Health’s Abortion Information line on 0800 499 500.

We’d appreciate if you pass this message on to all you think may benefit from it. If you receive this message indirectly but would like to receive updates regularly, please email alr@health.govt.nz  

Ngā mihi

The Abortion Law Reform Team