Counties Manakau DHB (CMDHB) has released a set of recommendations made by an expert panel they set up last year to look into ways to cut the area’s high perinatal death rate (deaths occurring between 20 weeks into a pregnancy to 28 days post delivery).
In a foreword to the panel’s recommendations, Chairman Professor Ron Paterson lays out the severity of the problem:
Between 2007 and 2010 there were 2,804 perinatal related deaths reported in New Zealand, 469 of which occurred in Counties Manukau. Every perinatal death statistic represents a significant loss, and immense grief, for the individual parents and whaanau. Each instance of perinatal death is also a tragedy for the wider community.
Evidence collected in national reviews suggests that high rates of perinatal death—in general, and most especially amongst a significant proportion of Counties Manakau’s residents—are highly related to such things as maternal obesity, maternal smoking, and a lack of proper antenatal care.
A number of the recommendations made by CMDHB’s expert panel are aimed at addressing these issues in an effort to save babies lives, recommending things like providing incentives for mothers to book into antenatal care in their first trimester, and increasing incentives for midwives to work with women with high risk pregnancies. However, the panel also makes some recommendations that may serve to undercut the DHB’s efforts to save babies lives. Namely, they recommend extending abortion services.
It seems strange for a panel that so explicitly acknowledges the significant loss and grief for parents, whanau and communities that occurs with the death of a baby, even one who has not been born yet, to recommend that one way to forestall future parents, whanau and communities from experiencing this loss and grief is to enable more abortions.