Over a two hour period, 50 people gathered to mark the first year anniversary of Southland Hospital providing abortions.
Led by Father Vaughan Leslie, the group, who call themselves Southlanders for Life, laid out a memorial of 300 white crosses on the lawn across the street from the hospital. Fr Leslie described the memorial as “significant, poignant, and somewhat provocative.”
Southlanders for Life have been present outside the hospital most Thursdays since December 2012.
The news that Southland District Health Board were intending to provide abortions at Southland Hospital became national news in July 2012.
Information obtained from the Southland District Health Board shows that 271 surgical and medical abortions were carried out in the hospital between September 2012 and July 2013.
Despite being legal under limited circumstances, no woman's petition for an abortion has been declined. According to the Health Board, information regarding complications was withheld in order to “protect the privacy of natural persons, including that of deceased natural persons”. Three people held a counterprotest supporting the abortion clinic in the driveway outside the hospital.
Rachael Goldsmith, spokesperson for both the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) and the Green Party in the Southland region, was one of the counterprotesters. “As long as they protest, so will we,” Goldsmith blogged. Southland Hospital serves the lowest part of New Zealand, which has a population of approximately 30,000 people.
Fr Leslie contends that the Board had “failed to consult with the community at any level over the introduction of abortion services locally, which it was duty bound to do according to its own rules.” He was hoping that with elections for a new Health Board on the horizon someone would step up and “at least voice our concerns at Board level.”
The group does not expect or ask that the abortion license be revoked. Southlanders for Life will continue to make their weekly vigils in the hope that awareness of abortion is raised and that women will not have them. Source