Auckland DHB’s looking for abortion providers

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A call for registrations of interest to provide first trimester surgical and medical abortions in the wider Auckland area has been tabled.

Auckland, Counties Manukau, and Waitemata District Health Boards have combined a tender for abortion services. Their intention is “to increase equity and access to high quality first trimester abortion services for women.”

The Health Boards are looking for providers who will deliver a service for medical abortions up to 9 weeks and/or surgical abortions up to 13 or 14 weeks gestation.

Integrating “first trimester abortion services with other women’s health services” is preferred. This integration, it is said, helps to lessen the “stigma” of abortion.

A particular focus is given to providing abortion services for Maori, Pacific and young women. “We need practitioners who are well connected with high needs communities, can engage young people and are culturally competent” states the official tender document.

Preference will be given to those who can offer:
• A “non-judgemental service.”
• A one-day service, including the provision of long acting contraception.
• Services in “an economically deprived community and/or [are] linked to one such as through transport hubs.”
• Counselling.

The DHBs are also interested in acquiring new abortion providers in rural and remote areas.

The objective is to “deliver a greater proportion of early medical abortions.”

For pregnant women who live within the catchment of the three DHB’s, the “service” will be free as long as they are eligible for publicly funded healthcare.

At the time of writing no other DHBs have asked for expressions of interests in providing abortions.

Contracts for those who are successful begin on 1 July 2021, and last for a period of three years.

Applicants for the tender are required to be trained and experienced in providing abortions of the type they are applying to offer. However, an allowance is granted for those who wish to apply but need to be trained. These applicants needed to provide a pathway and timeline for their study.

As part of their submission, applicants were to describe the volume of abortions they could deliver. They were also asked to outline “effective means of reducing repeat abortions, particularly through provision of LARCs of the woman’s choosing.”

Despite this requirement to reduce repeat abortions, potential providers have also been asked to demonstrate “awareness of financial sustainability” showing “appropriate planning to manage growing service demand.”

Under the new abortion law the criteria for who is able to provide abortions has widened. Doctors, nurse practitioners, and midwives are permitted to become abortion providers.

Although such a tender was likely after the passing of the Abortion Legislation Act in March, Family Life International’s team are deeply disappointed that the DHB’s have decided to put forward the opportunity for medical practitioners to profit from the killing of children.

“Pregnant mothers facing an unexpected or difficult pregnancy should be offered life-affirming options in her greatest hour of need” said Dame Colleen Bayer, Family Life International’s founder and director.

“Moreover, the emphasis on access to abortion for Maori, Pacific and young women, troubles me greatly as each group has their own vulnerabilities.”

“The urgency at which the DHBs want the process undertaken is dangerous,” Bayer continued. “Women will not have a chance to properly make an informed decision, to seek alternatives, nor have a chance to change their mind.”

“Every option should be given to pregnant mothers seeking abortion,” Dame Bayer stated. “They should know that they are not alone, that there are people willing to walk with them and support them for as long as needed so that they don’t feel that the only choice they have is abortion.”

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