When the Abortion Clinic Came to Town
Abortion Services of New Zealand, as it was then, had a couple of problems with the Department of Health and Disability Services’ (DHDS) approval for the clinic to perform abortions.
First, the abortion clinics in the DHDS region were not registered as such. Secondly, by law, DHDS had to approve all medical centres and medical providers. DHDS had, for example, approved a fertility clinic a few years before.
But these problems did not stop the clinic. The DHDS said it would open the abortion centre immediately because by law it had to. It had to open a service that was safe, legal and a true medical facility. When the DHDS said that the abortion clinic would immediately be registered with DHDS, the abortion clinic found some local help.
“We were the first abortion clinic in Christchurch to be properly regulated,” says Sally Kriwet, co-director of abortion clinic. “We’d had to go through an audit and go through a formal submission to the DHDS. And DHDS asked us to submit a formal submission with a lot of additional information that we believed had to be part of the process.
“The problem with the application and the submission was the information you have to submit to the DHDS to approve what you’re doing really. We were saying, wait a second, we’re registered not in New Zealand but in Australia. So we had to put a lot of information about that in the application.
“The other issue is that we’re a medical service but we were required to be regulated by the DHDS and the regulations were not strong enough to allow us to perform this first safe, legal abortion service. We’re an abortion service in the sense that we can do abortions, but they needed a licence to do abortions. So the abortion industry has been around for 150 years. It’s been around and they’ve been trying to get a licence to do abortions. That’s