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Wellington To Get Early-Pregnancy MVA Abortion

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Wellington To Get Early-Pregnancy MVA Abortion

Capital & Coast DHB is set to become the first in New Zealand to use the early-pregnancy abortion technique, manual vacuum aspiration (MVA).

New Zealand company Istar is importing MVA syringes, which reduce the discomfort for women, says Simon Snook, an Istar director, certifying consultant for Capital & Coast and Tairawhiti DHBs, and director of abortion services at Wairarapa DHB.

Dr Snook says the technology is well established elsewhere in the world, including the UK where he trained and practised, and is under consideration at Capital & Coast.

He expects women referred to the board's Te Mahoe unit will be offered the MVA (manual syringe) method alongside the present medical and surgical termination options.

Surgical termination can be safely carried out, with qualified people on call as back-up, in a community clinic similar to a general practice surgery, says Dr Snook, who has studied data from Tairawhiti DHB's Gisborne-based community service in its two years of operation.

He also researched abortion services based at Wellington and Masterton.

Dramatic variation

Among findings he presented to the Family Planning Association 2010 conference in Wellington on Sunday [17 October] were figures showing huge variation in uptake of the medical option.

In Tairawhiti, the medical termination rate was 68 per cent, in the Capital & Coast unit, 6 per cent, and in Wairarapa, 35 per cent.

If a service offers both medical and surgical abortion, it's important to query whether women are being led towards one as opposed to the other, says Dr Snook.

Timeliness and how information is presented can influence the method chosen.

Familiarity helps

In general practice where early discussion often takes place, GPs are usually aware of the availability of local termination services but may not know what women go through, Dr Snook says.

He believes women need more knowledge - and not just when facing an unplanned pregnancy.

One idea is to make more information available in medical practices - for example, leaflets could be provided in an area where patients would not feel embarrassed picking them up.

"Not on my watch"

Some health professionals choose not to be involved in a patient's decision-making about whether or not to end a pregnancy.

That's their right if they don't feel comfortable, Dr Snook says, but they also have a legal obligation to direct the woman to a practitioner who is comfortable in this area.

They must have referral systems set up, because delay is damaging to the woman's mental health.

More medical abortions

The conference heard from international speakers including Ann Furedi, chief executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Services.

In the UK, availability of medical abortion is the main factor behind growing numbers of abortions taking place early, she says. In 2008, an unprecedented 73 per cent of abortions in England and Wales were before 10 weeks.

Birth control cannot be managed by contraception alone and abortion is a necessary back-up, says Ms Furedi.

"We should stop problematising abortion and see its safe provision as a positive thing for society."

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