Ready your bingo cards: antichoice opinion in the Southland Times

Courtesy of Bryce Edwards, who thoughtfully compiles and categorises links of Kiwipolitical interest so other people don’t have to, I have come across an absolute doozy of a primer on antichoice rhetoric from the Southland Times.

I will pause for the inevitable Southland jokes.

Abortions breach “do no harm” ethic

OPINION: Norman MacLean explains his opposition to the advent of an abortion service at Southland Hospital, where for 35 years he was an obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Carole Heatly, the chief executive of the Southern District Health Board, says she wishes to “listen to the people”. These words are reassuring but do her actions match her words?

Let me save you reading the … well, frankly tedious and disconnected piece, which goes like this:

Norman knows that providing abortion services at Southland Hospital cannot really be the will of the people, because Norman knows the people, and they all coincidentally agree with his personal viewpoint.

Norman understands that the “distressing situation of young women with an unwanted early pregnancy is very real” requiring “wise counselling, and constructive practical support”.  Unlike silly statisticians, who understand that the median age of people having abortions in NZ in 2010 was 25, and prochoicers, who understand that for someone who doesn’t want to be pregnant, abortion is “constructive practical support”.

Norman recalls a golden age when women in Southland could still get their medical needs seen to in their own reign, when “[in] all cases, additional medical opinions were sought and a panel of doctors made a decision in consultation with the mother and her husband/partner.”  And everyone getting abortions were in monogamous heterosexual partnerships (I think it goes without saying they all presented as cis women.)

Norman understands that even though there are solid (and frankly bullshit) “conscientious objection” allowances built into our current legislation, doing abortions is just icky and wrong and defiles the holy sepulchre that is Southland Hospital.  Which is why all the DHBs which do offer abortion services have been swallowed by hellmouths:

Consider the situation where, in one operating theatre, a termination list is proceeding where unborn babies are being deliberately destroyed, and in the next theatre a caesarean operating list is progressing where babies are being deliberately gently handled and saved.

To be honest, if they’re not shooting cord blood through the doors at each other with water pistols, I fail to see the problem.  But then, I do tend to look on medical procedures as medical procedures.  And I kinda understand how the vast majority of abortions take place long before there’s anything there that you’d want to “gently handle” (56% before week 10, according to those nasty statistics people.)

(Of course, the possibility of a person from Southland undergoing an abortion at a more advanced state of pregnancy is … well, not so much a possibility as a certainty, seeing as they have to travel outside their district to get their health needs seen to.  That’s our Norman, doing what he can to risk women’s lives for their own good.)

(Also, “terminating list”?  Don’t pretend your first thought wasn’t Arnie-related.)

Norman also cites Hippocrates and 2,500 years of “Western medicine” which forbids “the use of killing as a treatment option”.  Which is kind of a hilarious phrase, and also not actually a cut-and-dried interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath.

Anyway, the point is that liberalising abortion is totally positively correlated with child abuse.  In Norman’s head.  It’s not his fault, most antichoicers have a lot of trouble understanding that most human beings can, in fact, tell the difference between a microscopic blob living off another person’s body and a born child.

Wait, no, the point is Mother Theresa.  Also ultrasound, because we can see that foetuses look totally like babies at a stage far beyond the point at which roughly 99% of abortions are performed.  No, the point is:

Science conclusively demonstrates that individual human life begins at conception.

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure it has.  Remember kids, every time antichoicers say “life begins at conception” they actually mean “God is a mass murdering sadist, because 60-80% of those new lives are going straight into Mummy’s next tampon.”

(See what I did there, Norman?  It’s called a citation.  You need one.)

Let’s round the whole thing out with some classic “abortion causes mental illness” (because antichoicers really, really have a problem understanding that human lives are complex and multilayered … otherwise they’d have a very difficult time remaining antichoice) and some nice patriarchal denouncements:

Liberal abortion is simply not good medicine and this is why many Southlanders are deeply concerned this harmful procedure will be practised within our community.

Because no people from Southland actually get abortions.  It’s just heaps of Canterbury slappers are itching to add a road trip to Invercargill to their next abortion party itinerary.

Now let’s remember:

Mr MacLean was a clinical obstetrician and gynaecologist at Southland Hospital for 35 years and was the clinical director in the department for 10 years, retiring in 2006. He remains working in Invercargill as a senior lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Otago Medical School.

And, one feels almost entirely certain, he’s never actually faced even the possibility of undergoing an unwanted pregnancy.  But that’s okay, it just makes him rational and unbiased.  Norman knows what’s best.  Even if his arguments are lies.


  1. ms p

    I donated to ALRANZ after wading through that dreck. Quite the opposite of his intention I’m sure. But geez, he’s involving in training new med professionals? That’s what should be alarming Southlanders

  2. NickS

    Ah, so this is the particular shithead who some responsibility lies with for putting pregnant Southlanders lives at risk and hitting them in the wallet by having to travel to Dunedin for abortion services. May most of his current and future students troll the shit of him.

    And kudos to Southland DHB for finally starting to doing the right thing and beginning to get around to providing abortion services.

    • QoT

      I am mightly impressed with Southland DHB. It seems to be the in thing to just pretend the abortion issue doesn’t exist, but they’re acknowledging the crappy situation unwillingly-pregnant Southlanders are in and goshdarnit actually DOING something about it.

  3. La Ranita

    Great post, thanks! I’ll be doing a bit of a round-up over at the ALRANZ blog in the next couple of days so I’ll definitely add this.

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  5. Rose

    Love this post- so tired of the boring, ignorant, anti choice,
    holier than thou misogynists

  6. soy milk

    Just to point out to commenters that Southland DHB isn’t doing this – it no longer exists. We now have a merged Otago/Southland board, the Southern DHB, based in Dunedin. I’m just guessing, but it’s possible that the merger means that there are fewer conservative board members than there would have been on the old Southland DHB.
    And I’m not sure if this opinion piece was in the Southland Times – I couldn’t find it anyway. It may have just been online. I’m hoping that’s the case anyway, as the local papers already seem to be giving him free reign to moralise over us all.
    In his latest article he basically admitted that he doesn’t have a problem with abortions being done at Invercargill Hospital, it’s the ‘liberal abortions’ that he has a problem with. So he is using this to drum up local support for changing the abortion laws so that there will be far fewer abortions nationwide. Norman knows what your uterus needs!
    Er, sorry for being long-winded. But thanks for the post – I laughed out loud at the cord blood water pistol fight. 🙂

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