1937. NEW ZEALAND.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO THE VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE PROBLEM OF ABORTION IN NEW ZEALAND.
Laid on the Table of the House of Representatives by Leave.
PAGE Historical and Introduction .. .. • • ■ • • ■ • • • • 2 p ar t J —lncidence of Abortion in New Zealand .. . . .. • • • • .. 3 Part II. —Underlying Causes .. .. ■ • • • • ■ • • • • 8 Part lll.—Possible Remedial Measures .. .. .. •• •• 12 Part IV.—Medico-legal Aspects .. • ■ • ■ • ■ ■ • • • . - 19 Summary and Conclusions Oft Thanks . . •• •• •• Zb
CONSTITUTION AND TERMS OF REFERENCE OF COMMITTEE. In accordance with the decision of Cabinet, a special Committee was appointed on 4th August, 1936, — (1) To inquire into and report upon the incidence of septic abortion in New Zealand, including— (a) The incidence among married and single women ; (b) Whether the rate of incidence has increased during recent years ; (e) How New Zealand compares with other countries in this respect: (2) To inquire into and report upon the underlying causes for the occurrence of septic abortion in New Zealand, including medical, economic, social, and any other factors : (3) To advise as to the best means of combating and preventing the occurrence of septic abortion in New Zealand : (4) Generally to make any other observations or recommendations that appear appropriate to the Committee on the subject. The following were appointed members of the Committee :— Dr. D. G. McMillan, M.8., Ch.B. (N.Z.), M.P., Chairman. Mrs. Janet Fraser. Dr. Sylvia G. Chapman, M.D., D.G.O. (T.C.D.). Dr. Thomas F. Corkill, M.D. (Edin.), M.R.C.P. (Edin.), M.C.O.G. Dr. Tom L. Paget, L.R.C.P. (Lond.), M.R.C.S. (Eng.).
The Hon. the Minister of Health, Wellington. SIB,— The Committee set up by Cabinet to inquire into the various aspects of the Problem of Abortion in New Zealand has the honour to submit herewith its report. HISTORICAL AND INTRODUCTION. Since the rise in the death-rate from septic abortion in 1930, the Department of Health, the medical profession, and women's organizations and societies have shown great concern regarding the problem. The Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of the New Zealand Branch of the British Medical Association conveyed to the Prime Minister a resolution passed at the meeting of its executive held in Wp.lli-ngt.nn on 12th March, 1936, wherein it begged the Prime Minister to consider the advisability of setting up a Committee of inquiry to investigate this matter. This recommendation having been favourably considered, the following Committee was appointed : — Dr. D. G. McMillan, M.8., Ch.B. (N.Z.), M.P., Chairman. Mrs. Janet Fraser. Dr. Sylvia G. Chapman, M.D. (N.Z.), M.8., Ch.B. (N.Z.). Dr. T. F. Corkill, M.D. (Edir.), M.R.C.P. (Edin.). Dr. T. L. Paget, M.R.C.S. (Eng.), L.R.C.P. (Lond.). Although the immediate purpose of this inquiry was to investigate the problem of septic abortion, it at once became apparent that this matter was so inextricably bound up with the subject of abortion in general that all aspects would require consideration.
The Committee has therefore attempted to make this wider survey and to bring before you as complete a picture as possible. The Committee has been guided by the Order of Reference, which was as follows :— I. To inquire into and report upon the incidence of abortion in New Zealand, including — (a) The incidence among married and single women : (b) Whether the rate of incidence has increased during recent years : (c) How New Zealand compares with other countries in this respect. 11. To inquire into and report upon the underlying causes for the occurrence of abortion in New Zealand, including medical, economic, social, and any other factors. 111. To advise as to the best means of combating and preventing the occurrence of abortion in New Zealand. IV. Generally to make any other observations or recommendations that appear appropriate to the Committee on the subject. The preliminary meeting of the Committee was held on the 18th August, and in all sixteen meetings have been held, of which thirteen meetings were held in Wellington, one in Dunedin, one in Auckland, and one in Christchurck. Evidence was heard from— British Medical Association. Church of England. Crown Solicitor. Dominion Federation of Women's Institutes. Dominion Federation of Women's Institutes (Auckland Branch). Government Statistician. Lecturer in Medical Jurisprudence, Otago Medical School. Maternity Protection Society. Mothers Union. National Council of Women. National Council of Women (Canterbury Branch). New Zealand Labour Party (Auckland Women's Branch). New Zealand Registered Nurses Association. New Zealand Registered Nurses Association (Auckland Branch). New Zealand Registered Nurses Association (Christchurch Branch). Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society. Obstetricians and Gynecologists attached to the Public Hospitals in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. Pharmaceutical Society. Police Department. Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. Roman Catholic Church. Royal Society for the Health of Women and Children. St. John Ambulance Association Nursing Guild. Women's Division of the Farmers Union. Women's Division of the Farmers Union (Otago Branch). Women's Division of the Farmers Union (South Auckland Branch). Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Women's Service Guild. Working Women's Movement (Auckland Branch). In addition to these, evidence was heard from twelve other persons. The Committee would like to express its thanks to the witnesses, many of whom have gone to considerable trouble to collect information and prepare their evidence. PART I.—INCIDENCE OF ABORTION IN NEW ZEALAND. All the evidence brought before the Committee indicates that abortion is exceedingly frequent in New Zealand. It is quite impossible to assess the incidence with complete accuracy, for the reason that a very considerable number of these cases do not come under medical or
hospital observation, but some definite indication of the frequency is given by the statistics obtained from various hospitals and practices. In one urban district, for instance, in which the total live births for a two-year . period were 4,000, the number of cases of abortion treated in the public hospital alone was 400. When to this number were added the cases treated in the various private hospitals, those attended by doctors in the patients' homes, and those not medically attended at all, it was computed that a total of 1,000 abortions was a conservative figure. In other words, roughly twenty pregnancies in every 100 terminated in abortion. Looked at from a somewhat different angle, figures were presented from one hospital showing that in a group of 568 unselected women of child-bearing age, there were 549 abortions in 2,301 pregnancies, or 23 per hundred. How DO THESE CASES ORIGINATE ? It must be explained that a certain number of cases of abortion occur perfectly innocently as the result of some condition of ill health, or, occasionally, as the result of accident. These spontaneous cases constitute an entirely medical problem. All other cases are artificially produced or induced. A very small number of these are honourably performed by medical practitioners when the mother's life is seriously endangered. This procedure is termed " Therapeutic induction of abortion." Certain important questions in relation to therapeutic abortion will be discussed at a later stage in this report. The remainder of the induced cases are unlawfully produced by the person herself or by some other person—criminal abortion. The Committee received much evidence regarding the methods used in the attempt to procure abortion. In the first instance it was shown that the use of so-called abortifacient drugs was extensively practised and was usually a first resort. Little need be said about the matter at this stage except to state that the New Zealand evidence entirely supports the opinions expressed elsewhere that drug-taking is rarely effective. Those tempted to use these drugs should realize the futility of the practice for the purpose intended and the frequency with which disturbances of health are caused by taking them. Their only value is as a lucrative source of gain to those people who, knowing their inefficacy, yet exploit the distress of certain women by selling them. It is perfectly clear that the real menace is the instrumentally produced abortion, either self-induced by the person herself or the result of an illegal operation performed by some outside person. These abortionists include a few unprincipled doctors and chemists, a few women with varying degrees of nursing training, and a number of unskilled people. It was a matter of considerable importance for the Committee to attempt to determine first the extent to which spontaneous abortions contribute to the total figures : the prevalence of unlawful abortion could then be better realized. Here again it was found exceedingly difficult to obtain exact figures, but the evidence suggests that probably less than seven pregnancies in every 100 terminate in spontaneous abortion. Taking the records of one group of 1,095 women where the incentives to interference were probably at a minimum, it was found that out of a total of 2,180 pregnancies only 152, or 6-97 per cent., terminated in abortion, while in a series of 5,337 pregnancies in patients taken from the records of St. Helens Hospitals, 6 per cent, terminated in abortion. Even assuming that all these were spontaneous (which was probably not the case), the incidence is approximately 6 per cent, to 7 per cent. If, then, the total abortion rate is 20 per 100, it is clear that the incidence of criminal abortion is at least 13 in every 100 pregnancies. The Committee believes that this figure can be accepted as a conservative estimate of the prevalence of unlawful abortion in New Zealand.
Some of the figures presented suggested a still higher incidence. Applying the figures given to the whole of New Zealand it means that while in the year ending March, 1936, there were 24,395 live births there were probably 6,066 abortions, of which nearly two-thirds (4,000) were criminally induced. The impression of the Committee is that this is an underestimate. Serious as this is on general grounds, the matter is of particular importance in regard to the special problem which led to the setting-up of this Committee of inquiry—the incidence of septic abortion. Septic infection, or blood-poisoning, is the most serious complication which may follow abortion. Grave concern has been occasioned by a realization of the frequency of septic abortion, the most significant indication of which is the number of women who lose their lives as the • result of this complication. Attention has repeatedly been drawn to this problem by the officers of the Department of Health, the New Zealand Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, and others interested in maternal welfare. During the five-year period 1931-35, 176 women died from sepsis following abortion. In the same period there were only 70 deaths from sepsis following full-time child-birth. Some of the distressing repercussions from these tragedies have been revealed in the annual report of the Director-General of Health, 1936, which shows that in that period 338 children were left motherless by the death of 109 married women. Another serious fact is that, while, owing to the strenuous efforts of those engaged in the direction and practice of midwifery, there has been a most gratifying fall in deaths from post-confinement sepsis from 2-02 per 1,000 live births in 1927 to 0-4 per 1,000 in 1935, deaths from post-abortion sepsis in the same period rose from 0-50 per 1,000 live births in 1927 to 1-73 per 1,000 in 1934, with a fall to 1 per 1,000 in 1935. These figures are illustrated by the following graph and accompanying table : —
Maternal Mortality. Showing the numbers of deaths and the death-rate per 1,000 live births from certain causes, 1927 to 1935.
1927. ! 1928. 1929. 1930. 1931. j 1932. 1933. 1934. 1935. I I 1 Maternal mortality, including septic abortion — Number .. .. 137 134 129 • 136 127 101 108 118 101 Rate .. .. 4-91 4-93 4-82 5-08 4-77 4-08 4-44 4-85 4-21 Maternal 'mortality, excluding septic abortion — Number .. .. 123 120 110 106 98 75 82 76 78 Rate .. .. ■■ 4-41 4-42 4-11 3-96 3-68 3-02 3-37 3-12 3-25 Puerperal septicaemia — Number .. • • 56 42 30 27 18 13 14 17 8 Rate .. .. .. 2-01 1-54 1-12 1-01 0-68 0-52 0-58 0-70 0-33 Septic abortion — Number — Married .»■••") f 26 26 24 16 29 17 y 14 14 19<j Single .... J I 3 2 10 13 6 Rate .. .. .. 0-50 0-51 0-71 1-12 1-09 1-04 1-07 1-73 0-96
Maternal Mortality. Showing the Deathrate per 1,000 Live Births from Certain Causes 1927-1935.
One of the unfortunate features of this matter from the public health point of view is the extent to which this increase in deaths from abortion sepsis is counterbalancing and masking the very real improvement which has been achieved by the obstetrical services in the work for which they may justly be held responsible. According to the international system of recording, these cases are included in the total maternal mortality. Actually in New Zealand in the five-year period mentioned, abortion sepsis was responsible for one-quarter of the total maternal deaths.
In the larger urban areas the position is even more unfortunate, as the following instance will indicate : —
Maternal Mortality in Urban Areas for the Five-year Period, 1930-34.
In the case of the four urban areas deaths from septic abortion account for approximately two-fifths of the total maternal mortality. With these cases excluded, the maternal mortality associated with child-birth proper was 3-20 per 1,000 live births. Clearly, any comparison between different maternity services should be made on the basis of these latter figures alone. What is the Cause of this High Incidence of Deaths from Septic Abortion. The evidence offered to the Committee by medical witnesses indicates conclusively that sepsis, and death from sepsis particularly, is almost entirely due to illegal instrumental interference. Spontaneous abortion, provided that proper medical care is given, rarely results in sepsis. Therapeutic abortion, done with all the safeguards of modern surgical practice, is associated with very little acute sepsis. But criminal abortion is associated with an extremely high sepsis rate. The reasons are not far to seek: the surreptitious nature of the operation and the lack of skill and surgical cleanliness so frequently shown by the operator make this result almost inevitable. Has the Practice of Abortion increased in Eecent Years ? In so far as the deaths from septic abortion can be taken as a comparative indication of the occurrence of abortion generally —and the Committee believes this is a fair index—there seems little doubt that there has been a marked increase. A reference to the graph already given will indicate this rise. There is reason to hope that the fp.ll in 1935 means an improvement in the general situation. Professor Dawson, giving evidence regarding admissions to the Dunedin Hospital, showed that in the five-year period 1931-35 there was an increase of 23-7 per cent, in the cases of abortion as compared with the previous five-year period. The evidence of other medical witnesses was practically unanimous on this point. How does New Zealand compare with other Countries in this Matter ? According to the report of the British Medical Association Committee on the Medical Aspects of Abortion (1936), the position in Great Britain would appear to be very similar to that existing in New Zealand. In that report it is stated that the incidence of abortion is generally reckoned at from 16 per cent, to 20 per cent, of all pregnancies.
o a> a> <» o o dM i> 8- lis | ||| <2 T • Total §o 1 ® g | ® g £ | Urban Area. Births. Maternal «§ fi g 2g 2^ Deaths. m d U3 2 .2 :§ ' « H g § J "6 § ©'-d S m -g .2 o B t, ■£ B ° B rH\B £ rā ° n © ce &© <1 ® «2 r-H _ __ s s a n P^_ Auckland .. 14,290 81 5-67 55 3-85 26 1-82 Wellington .. 11,690 61 5-22 32 2-74 29 2-48 Christchurcli .. 9,599 51 5-31 29 3-02 22 2-29 Dunedin .. .. 5,960 24 4-03 17 2-96 7 1-17 Total, four urban 41,539 217 5-22 | 133 3-20 84 2-02 areas — — Total, remainder of 58,623 273 4-66 204 3-48 69 1-18 Dominion
The spontaneous-abortion rate is suggested as probably about 5 per cent, of all pregnancies. The evidence set before that Committee suggested that there has been an increase in criminal abortion in the last decade. In England and Wales 13-4 per cent, of the total maternal deaths were due to abortion. That Committee concludes that " illegal instrumentation contributes to an overwhelming degree to the mortality from abortion." One of the most interesting investigations into this aspect of the subject is reported by Parish* in a study of 1,000 cases of abortion treated as in-patients in St. Giles's Hospital, Camberwell, during the years 1930 to 1934. In 374 of these cases where instrumentation was admitted the febrile rate was 88-2 per cent., and the death-rate 3-7 per cent., while in 246 cases with no history of interference and presumably spontaneous the febrile rate was 5-7 per cent, and the mortality rate nil. The following tab e compiled by the Government Statistician shows New Zealand's position in comparison with eleven other countries
Puerperal Mortality per 1,000 Live Births in Eleven Countries, 1934.
PART II. —THE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF ABORTION IN NEW ZEALAND. As seen by the Committee, the reasons which lead to a resort to abortion may be set out under the following broad headings : — (1) Economic and domestic hardship. (2) Fear of labour and its sequelse. (3) Pregnancy in the unmarried. (4) Changes in social outlook. (5) Ignorance of effective methods of contraception and of the dangers of abortion. (6) Influence of advertising. (1) Economic and Domestic Hardship. (a) Poverty. —Cases arise where the parents are on the bread-line and have no means of supporting a child, but the Committee is of opinion that such extreme poverty is rare in New Zealand. More common are the cases in which income is sufficient for a small family but a larger one would constitute hardship, or, alternatively, in which income is sufficient to support several small children but not to provide education, &c., in later life, The view, formerly widely accepted, that membership of a large *" The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire," December, 1935, p. 1107. T. M. Parish.
Total Puerperal Mortality. Sentic Puerperal C0Untiy ' Abortion. Includin S Excluding Septic Septic Abortion. Abortion. Norway .. .. .. 0-47 0-57 2-75 2-28 Netherlands .. .. 0-30 0-73 3-20 2-90 New Zealand .. .. 1-73 0-70 4-85 3-12 Switzerland .. .. 0-73 0-82 4-58 3-85 England and Wales .. 0-49 1-53 4-60 4-11 Australia .. .. .. 1-45 0-90 5-76 4-31 Irish Free State .. .. 0-07 1-73 4-68 4-61 Canada .. .. .. 0-58 1-23 5-26 4-68 United States of America .. 1-02 1-30 5-93 4-91 Union of South Africa .. 0-67 2 • 03 5-99 5-32 Scotland .. .. .. 0-38 2-30 6-20 5-82 Northern Ireland .. .. 0-32 1-85 6-27 5-95
family is in itself a valuable contribution to education and to the training of responsible citizens, appears to be at a discount, and many parents now consider that advantages which can be given to a child as a result of family limitation outweigh the natural advantages of a large family in which the children develop initiative through companionship. (b) Housing. —This constitutes an acute problem in crowded city areas. In many cases houses which are past repair and already condemned form the only shelter for a growing family. Ordinary domestic and hygienic conveniences are often lacking. Where a family is able to pay for better accommodation, difficulties frequently arise owing to the unwillingness of landlords to accept tenants with children, and, as the demand for houses exceeds the supply, landlords are able to pick and choose. The lack also of suitable cottages on farms for married couples with children probably has a considerable influence on the limitation or avoidance of families and leads to a premium being placed on childlessness because married couples without " encumbrances '" can more easily obtain employment. This is an aspect of the problem that should receive earnest consideration. (c) Domestic. —Lack of help in the home even by those who can afford it is a factor of very great importance. This applies especially to country life, where a woman's whole physical energy is taken up by attention to domestic matters and often also to farm-work, to the detriment of family life. The following is an account given to one witness by a farmer's wife, describing an average day's work: — " Rise 4.30, have cup of tea —wife to shed, set machines, hubby to bring cows —start milking 5 a.m., hard going to 8 o'clock ; wife returns house to get breakfast, also see to children and cut lunches for them to take to school. Hubby feeds calves, fowls, and ducks, then breakfast. Load milk on express, harness horse, away to factory mile away —get whey return. Now 9 o'clock, wife has machines down and washes, hubby hose down shed. Drive whey down to paddocks and feed 40 pigs, returns, unharness horse, wash cart down, yoke team to plough, disk, &c. Wife to start housework about 10 o'clock, dinner at 12.30 to be ready, or taken down to paddocks (if harvesting 3 or 4 men are working). Usual times fencing, repairing sheds, fixing yards, besides other farm duties till 3.30 —afternoon tea —children given something to eat on returning from school. Husband and wife to sheds again 4 till 7. Hubby washes machines, feeds calves, &c., wife in meantime has returned house, washed children and put to bed before sitting down to her tea at 8 o'clock — by tittle washed up is 9 o'clock —too tired to do anything else but crawl into bed." The lack of adequate playing-areas, kindergartens, and other means of employing the time of the pre-school child outside the home is a matter that was brought before the notice of the Committee as another of the domestic difficulties. This is one of the factors preventing that amount of leisure which is necessary for the well-being of the mother. (d) Cost of Confinement. —This was stressed particularly by country witnesses. Where a woman is beyond the reach of medical attendance and has to travel a considerable distance to hospital this adds materially to the cost of the confinement. To some women even moderate hospital and medical fees are prohibitive, and the problem is rendered more difficult still by the necessity for providing extra help in the home or on the farm during the wife's absence. It was, however, rightly pointed out by one witness that the fees paid to an abortionist and the economic waste due to subsequent ill health would in many cases more than pay the expenses of an ordinary confinement. (2) Fear op Labour and its Sequels. This was referred to by several witnesses, some of whom cited cases from their own experience. An erroneous idea seems to be prevalent among certain sections of the laity that the total abolition of pain during labour is possible for every patient. The fear that such relief will be withheld has been suggested as a cause for women seeking the abortionist. It would seem, however, that, with the increasing knowledge of methods of pain-relief in labour, more extensive ante-natal and post-natal care, and the cultivation of a more normal psychological outlook
among pregnant women, the fear complex will in future assume progressively less importance. The Committee believes that increasing attention is being paid to these aspects by the. medical profession. As to the bearing of this matter on the subject of abortion, several witnesses, among whom were two obstetricians of wide experience, expressed the opinion that, while fear of pregnancy and labour is rare, fear of infection following abortion is a factor the recognition of which is becoming more general. The Committee is of opinion that fear of labour is not a major factor, and this opinion is supported by many witnesses. 11l health was alleged as a cause in a few instances, but it would appear that, in spite of the ambiguous state of the law, no genuine case of ill health need resort to abortion by clandestine methods. This is referred to in greater detail elsewhere. (3) Pregnancy in the Unmakbied. While this constitutes only a small part of the general problem of abortion, it is, nevertheless, a matter of great importance, and one which merits the closest study. Undoubtedly the general attitude towards the unmarried mother to-day is kinder and more tolerant than was formerly the case, but the fact remains that the single girl who determines to face the world with her child may find herself subject to unreasonable and unnecessary cruelty and injustice. Excellent work in assisting the single mother is done by various religious and charitable organizations, and where a girl is driven to the abortionist this is more likely to be due to, fear of social ostracism than to lack of ways and means of caring for the child. Several witnesses mentioned ignorance of matters relating to sex as being frequently responsible for pregnancy in the unmarried. This is undoubtedly the ease, and the responsibility of parents, guardians, and teachers in this matter is evident. The evil influence of drinking on young people was also stressed, medical and social workers being well aware of the importance of this factor. Alcohol consumption need not be excessive to undermine self-control and dull the moral sense. (4) Changes in the Social Outlook. The Committee believes that, in the altered social outlook, particularly towards the rearing of large families, lies a very important cause for the present situation. This aspect of the matter is intimately interwoven with the economic considerations already set forth, but extends far beyond them. The point of view of what we believe to be a very large body of women is illustrated by the following evidence, which is but one of many similar expressions of opinion heard by the Committee. This witness, speaking on behalf of a group with incomes of £300 to £400 per annum, stated:— " On present incomes, not more than two or three children at the outside can be given educational and economic opportunities. It may be said that it is quite possible to mitigate to a quite tolerable degree the strain put upon the parents by the provision of (1) adequate wages for husbands, and (2) a system of domestic help for wives. With regard to (1) it is not probable within our lifetime that everybody will be guaranteed an income adequate to the needs of a family of, say, three children—' needs 'as viewed by educated parents. The most sympathetic administration would have its hands full for many a year coping with the problem of helping those thousands of our people who have been just on or very near the bread-line. Those worst off hitherto need help first. A man earning between three and four hundred a year should not claim Government help to breed children, when there are such numbers of people living on a much lower wage. But it must be perfectly clear to each member of the Commission who figures the matter out that a salary of less than £400 will not enable m :e than two children to be given such chances of development as every parent reasonably desires. It is pertinent to ask here what is the average number of children in the families of the British middle class —which is mainly the stratum from which our legislators, rulers, and magistrates have been drawn. Do such people breed freely ? Self-respecting parents prefer to do without such Government help as family allowances ; but knowing the cost of training a child they claim the rights first, to decide how many children they will breed, and, secondly, to live themselves normally satisfied married lives. Few women, moreover, of average intelligence are to-day content to be breeding-machines, and their husbands support them in that attitude. With regard to domestic help, even were this, or nursing schools, or both, provided by the State, the responsibility
for hex children's well-being would be still all-absorbing, at least during the first four years of each, one's growth. Students of child psychology are insistent that the preschool period is the most important in the life of the individual and requires the most skilful attention. Natural affection is not enough ; it must be wedded to care for the child's mind. Now, willy-nilly, modern life itself takes such toll of nervous energy that there are few educated women to-day who go through all the child-bearing period and have sufficient nerve force to welcome each child that may ' come along and rear it happily. Yet without adequate nervous energy in the mother what family can develop into healthy and well-balanced useful citizens ? It necessarily follows that the output of children will be limited if the parents are to do their part adequately. Quantity, the mass production of the past, must give way to quality. That involves birth-control. How is it to be achieved ? " Without necessarily assenting to the sentiments expressed in the above quotation, the Committee considers that such opinions cannot but demand thoughtful consideration. Dread of large families or of close-interval pregnancies under modern conditions is undoubtedly a common reason for attempting to limit the family. But having made all allowances for the more difficult circumstances of modern times, the more thoughtful consideration of some husbands for their wives and of gome parents for their children, and a legitimate intention to maintain a higher standard of living, it seems clear that amongst a considerable section of the community the demand for the limitation of families has passed beyond these motives into regions of thoughtlessness and selfishness. Furthermore, an attitude of pitying superiority towards the woman with many children appears to be a current fashion. Many witnesses expressed the opinion that a young and sensitive mother was frequently deterred from a further pregnancy, for which she would in other circumstances be quite prepared, or tempted to seek abortion, because of the fear of ridicule by current public opinion. Still other women, it has been explained, are influenced by comparisons. Seeing their neighbours leading less burdensome and more pleasure-full lives, they decide to follow suit. The modern desire for pleasure and freedom from responsibility has led many to lose sight of the ideal of the family as a service to the State and the unit of social life. Unwillingness on the part of the wife to give up remunerative work is a factor that operates in certain cases ; this may be due to the position of the wife as the support of an invalid husband and family, but in other cases the reason is obviously selfish. While dealing with this question of social outlook, it will not be out of place to refer to an aspect which, though mentioned by only a few witnesses, is known to all social workers as a factor of increasing importance. This is the fear of war. It may take the form of (a) conscious visualization of the horrors of war, or (b) subconscious fear evidenced by excessive anxiety regarding the future. In either case it acts as a powerful deterrent from child-bearing, although it is doubtful whether those who are influenced by this fear would resort to abortion where contraception had failed. Speaking of social conditions, some witnesses, under the impression that the average age at marriage was rising, attribute the increasing abortion-rate among the unmarried partly to this cause. The actual fact is that the age at marriage has decreased of late years, but is still probably higher than would be the case if economic conditions were more favourable. It is clear that, whether the motives be worthy or selfish, women of all classes are demanding the right to decide how many children they will have. Methods which depend on self-control are ruled out as impracticable. Contraceptives are largely used, and, judging by the marked decline in the birth-rate in recent years, are in many cases successful. In other cases, however, they are not so, and there is then frequently a resort to abortion. (5) Ignorance of Effective Methods of Contraception and of the Dangers of Abortion. The public as a whole is ignorant of the physiology of reproduction. This results in attempts being made to prevent conception by methods which are doomed to
failure at the outset. The use of defective methods owing to their comparative cheapness and the unnecessarily high cost of effective appliances are undoubtedly among the causes of such failure. While it is not the function of this Committee to report upon the wider aspect of contraception, but to deal with it only in relation to the abortion problem, yet we would point out that the evidence given showed that, though contraception is widely practised, many of the methods used are unreliable, and not founded upon physiological knowledge, and that when they fail abortion is resorted to. Abortion is a delayed, dangerous, and unsatisfactory form of birth-control. It was stressed by some witnesses that many women have no idea of the risks to life and health involved in the procuring of abortion, a medical witness mentioning, among other evils, the tendency to spontaneous abortion arising from damage to the generative organs sustained at an initial induced abortion. Other witnesses, on the contrary, maintained that these risks are well known to the majority of women, but that when faced with an unwanted pregnancy they are willing to incur any risk. Fuller reference to these dangers appears in another section of the report. (6) Influence of Advertising. The attention of the Committee was drawn to advertisements appearing in certain periodicals which, while openly advocating the use of various contraceptives, referred to restraint and self-control in deprecatory terms. Abortifacients were advertised in terms which, while equally offensive, were less obvious. Other advertisements set forth the contents of certain books on sex matters of a very undesirable nature. The language of these advertisements can only be described as obscene, and their possible effects on immature and inexperienced minds can well be imagined. A reprehensible practice is that of certain so-called " mail order chemists," who send out price-lists of contraceptives and abortifacients indiscriminately through the post. In some cases these advertisements were shown to be of.a definitely misleading and fraudulent character. PART lII.—POSSIBLE REMEDIAL MEASURES. Having reviewed the position as it exists in New Zealand, and having set out what appear to be the main causes, it now remains to consider possible preventive measures. (1) The Relief of Economic Stbess. In so far as hardships resulting from economic difficulties are genuine, the Committee believes that there is a real call for and that there are definite possibilities of relief by the State. Two classes in particular call for most sympathetic consideration :— (1) The wives of the unemployed, or of those precariously employed. (2) The wives of those engaged in small farming, especially in the dairy-farming districts of the Forth Island. lor such women we consider that much could be done by way of financial, domestic, and obstetrical help. Financial Help.—ln general terms all efforts at social betterment—the reduction of unemployment, the improvement of wages, and relief, the reduction of taxation, direct and indirect, and the provision of better housing conditions—should undoubtedly help to make conditions more secure and more satisfactory for the rearing of larger families. But further than this, we believe that really adequate financial assistance directly related to the encouragement of the family is urgently called for. It is perfectly clear that general financial improvement does not, itself, necessarily bring about larger families ; limitation of the family is probably more prevalent amongst those more fortunately placed. What form this financial aid to the family should take requires much consideration.
The assistance is required not merely at the time of confinement, but also during the much longer period of the rearing and the education of the family. A general extension of the maternity allowance under any national health scheme would afford some immediate financial assistance. Income-tax exemption for children, however generous the scale, would not benefit these badly circumstanced cases, for already they are below the incometax limit. It would appear that further financial provision would have to take the form of a direct children's allowance. It is suggested that this might be put into effect by amending the present Family Allowances Act to provide that — (1) The amount be increased ; (2) The permissible income-level be increased ; (3) That, where given, the allowance be in respect of all the children in the family ; and (4) That the age-limit of the children be increased to sixteen. Domestic Assistance. —Equally important is the provision of domestic assistance, and here we are faced with a problem of the greatest difficulty —a national problem which is affecting women in all walks of life and of which this is but one aspect. In many farming districts it is clear that lack of domestic help is a greater burden to the harassed mother than even financial stringency. Many admirable efforts are being made to give assistance in this direction — in the country by the housekeeper plans of the Women's Division of the Farmers' Union and other organizations, in the cities by the Mothers Help Society and similar agencies. Extension of such system is highly desirable, and the possibility of their organization on a much larger scale with Government subsidy well deserves consideration. In many cases these efforts are limited as much by lack of personnel as by lack of funds. Alternatively, we suggest — (1) That the Government should inaugurate and recruit a National Domestic Service Corps of young women agreeable to enter the domestic-service profession : (2) That the recruits be guaranteed continuity of employment and remuneration as long as their service was satisfactory : (3) That they undergo whatever training is considered desirable at technical school or otherwise : (4) That they agree to perform service wherever required by the Domestic Service Department, which Department shall ensure that the living and working conditions are up to standard : (5) That the service be made available to all women, and that first consideration be given to expectant mothers, mothers convalescent after childbirth, and mothers who have young families, and that the service be either free or charged for according to the circumstances of each case. Again, realizing the fact that many of the considerations involved in this question of domestic help) are beyond the scope of this Committee, we recommend that a full investigation should be made of the whole matter. Obstetrical Aid. —As for obstetrical help, we believe that the position is in the main adequate and good. As far as the larger centres are concerned, no woman, however poor her circumstances, need lack complete ante-natal supervision, for which no charge is made, and proper confinement care, at most moderate cost, in the St. Helens Hospitals or the various maternity annexes of the public hospitals ; where the mother is actually indigent, free provision is available through the Hospital Boards ôr St. Helens Hospitals. The country mother in certain districts is, however, much less well placed, although the Health Department through its district nurses, maternity annexes, and subsidized small country hospitals is trying to meet the need.
We commend all possible efforts in this direction, and suggest that transport difficulties as they affect the country mother be given special consideration. To a certain extent transport difficulties can be eliminated by mating more use of public hospitals nearest to the patient's residence, or of private maternity hospitals subsidized by the Hospital Board of the district. Certain general criticisms of the maternity services are elsewhere discussed and certain recommendations are made. It is in respect of overburdened and debilitated women of those classes who are not in a position to obtain it privately that we have suggested that the State might make provision for birth-control advice. It is for such mothers especially that we have recommended the establishment of birth-control clinics in connection with our public hospitals. We realize, however, that genuine economic hardship is not confined to the unemployed, the wives of struggling farmers, and those on the lowest wage-levels : relative to their own circumstances and responsibilities, the difficulties of many women whose husbands are in the lower-salaried groups, or in small businesses, for instance, are just as anxious. For these we should also advocate the extension of the maternity allowance and such further direct financial encouragement of the family as can be devised. Here, too, is the definite need for domestic help—possibly on a subsidized plan. Many of these women prefer to make their own private arrangements for their confinements, and to enable them to do so we suggest that further assistance might be given by the provision of more maternity hospitals of the intermediate type, in which these mothers may have all adequate facilities with the right of attendance by their own doctors. Here, too, we believe that proper knowledge of child spacing is most desirable, though we consider that this is a matter for private arrangement. (2) Removal of Fear of Childbirth. It has been indicated that whereas the majority of witnesses expressed the opinion that the fear of pregnancy and labour played little part in the demand for abortion, and that the majority of women were satisfied with the help and relief which they received at the time of their confinement, yet there were some witnesses who held very strongly that inadequate pain relief and lack of sympathetic understanding of the individual on the part of the attendants were factors of considerable importance. We believe that these complaints are, as far as the maternity services in general are concerned, entirely unjustified. Taken as a whole, there is probably a more general use of pain-relieving measures in New Zealand to-day than anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, while commending what has already been done, we trust that every endeavour will be made by the Health Department, the doctors of the Dominion, and those responsible for the management of our maternity hospitals to do everything possible to extend these pain-relieving measures within the limits of safety, and to encourage that sympathetic consideration of the individual which is so desirable. While deprecating certain attacks which have been made on the St. Helens Hospitals, and appreciating the fact that there are other considerations involved besides the relieving of pain, we feel sure that the Health Department will investigate the possibility of improving the services rendered by these Hospitals by the introduction of resident medical officers. We agree with one witness who expressed the opinion that too much had been done in the past in the way of publishing the risks of maternity. We feel that there are real grounds for confidence in the obstetrical services of the Dominion and that any fear of pregnancy which does exist would be largely removed if the public were made aware that New Zealand now has a very low death-rate in actual childbirth, that relief in labour is largely used, and that further developments in this direction are continually being investigated.
(3) Control of Abortion amongst the Unmarried. The evidence before the Committee indicates that, while this is not the major problem, it is, nevertheless, an important one. Obviously, the main cause is a looseness of the moral standard, and the remedymust be educational. It is not the province, nor is it within the capacity of this Committee, to make detailed recommendations on this matter, but we would urge upon all those concerned — the educational authorities, religious bodies, the various youth movements and women's organizations, and individual parents —the importance of enlightened education of the young in the matter of sex problems. One factor of great importance we believe to be the widespread use of contraceptives amongst the unmarried. It might, at first thought, seem likely that the use of contraceptives, however reprehensible, would tend to diminish the incidence of abortion. But we believe that actually this is not the case : there is reason to think that many young women, relying on undependable methods of prevention, are tempted, and then, finding themselves in misfortune, resort to some method of abortion. It is our opinion that not only is immorality encouraged by the indiscriminate sale of contraceptives, but, indirectly, criminal abortion has increased amongst the young. For these reasons above all we are convinced that there should be a determined effort to suppress the indiscriminate sale of contraceptives. While realizing the great practical difficulties, we believe that much could be done. In particular, we believe that some effective measures could be devised to control the distribution of that type of contraceptive which is mainly used in these circumstances. We recommend the consideration of the licensing of the importation of certain contraceptive goods. We urge that the sale or distribution of contraceptives should be restricted entirely to registered practising chemists, doctors, hospital departments or clinics, and that their sale by other persons should be illegal and subject to severe penalty. Evidence placed before the Committee showed that a profit up to 300 per cent, was being made on contraceptive appliances. We recommend that the restriction on the advertisement of contraceptives should be more rigidly enforced, and particularly that the promiscuous advertisement and sale of contraceptives by " mail order " agencies should be made illegal. We recommend that it should be made unlawful to supply contraceptives to young persons. Difficulties and possibilities of evasion are of course obvious, but, nevertheless, similar restrictions have been applied with at least some measure of success in other directions. We would also appeal to the Pharmaceutical Society and to the individual chemists, since the responsibility rests so largely with them, to co-operate most earnestly in this matter. With regard to abortifacients, the recommendations we later make apply with even greater force to unmarried women. Several witnesses, speaking on behalf of women's organizations, advocated the introduction of women police for the guidance and protection of the young in places of public resort. Reference to the effect of alcohol on moral restraint has already been made. The second big consideration is the care of the unmarried woman who is in trouble. It has been suggested that if there were a more tolerant attitude towards such girls many who now resort to abortion would be prepared to go forward and face the future.
As one witness stated: — " She should be treated with the greatest tenderness. Usually she is more sinned against than sinning ; but she carries all the blame which belongs not only to the man but also to society, which has been guilty of supine acquiescence in the surrender of standards of moral conduct. " She has to give birth to a child which has the rights of every unborn infant; and she has to re-establish herself in the community . . . It is terribly difficult for them afterwards with the child, and they need all the help they can get. It seems to me that some of them must go in sheer dread to the abortionist. My definite opinion is that something more needs to be done." In all fairness to the many fine organizations which are helping these girls, the Committee is satisfied that there is no lack of tolerance, sympathy, and helpfulness with them. If fault there is, it is in the attitude of the general public to this matter. Some criticism has been directed at the St. Helens Hospitals because they are not freely open to unmarried women, but it is only right that the position should be made clear. The actual position is that, in the majority of cases, the St. Helens Hospitals, which can only offer accommodation to an expectant mother for the period of her confinement, are not suitable for dealing with single women, who require protection and care before and after their confinements as well. There are, throughout the country, many admirable institutions which are equipped to give this service. Discussion before this Committee has, however, made it clear that where an unmarried mother can make adequate private arrangements for the care of herself and her infant after confinement, the St. Helens Hospitals are prepared to take her for the actual confinement period. In regard to the maternity homes which deal with unmarried women, there has also been some criticism of the usual regulations in these homes which call for a period of residence in the home both before and, especially, after confinement. It should be pointed out, however, that this is a wise and humane provision, entirely in the interests of the mothers and their babies : it ensures for the mother that very period of convalescence which other witnesses have so strongly advocated under other circumstances, it gives the baby protection in the most difficult early months, and it allows the helpers in the home an opportunity to make provision for the baby's future. Here, again, where the mother is able to make adequate provision for herself and her infant, these regulations are certainly relaxed in some of the homes concerned, and we would commend this practice in suitable cases to those responsible for the management of all these homes. Regarding the obstetrical care given to the unmarried mothers in these homes, the evidence given indicates clearly that it is of a standard equal to that in our other maternity hospitals. Indeed, whereas the risks of childbirth amongst unmarried mothers the world over is notoriously high, amongst the women who place themselves in the (fare of these homes in New Zealand the maternal mortality and the infant mortality are both exceedingly low. In the homes of which the members of the Committee have personal knowledge the same ante-natal care (indeed, since these patients are resident in the home and under close observation, more complete care) is given and the same methods of pain relief are used. It is only right that these reassuring facts should be made public. Regarding the provision for the children in these cases, while we are satisfied that the State and the various organizations responsible for their care deal with them in a kindly and sympathetic manner, we agree that every effort should be made to give them a fair prospect in life, to avoid any stigma, and to keep secret their misfortune. It has been suggested by one witness that the privacy of an unmarried mother's affairs has been interfered with by the present regulations regarding the notification of births. Under the Child Welfare Act as it at present operates there is a duty on the Registrar to inform the Child Welfare Department of every birth, and the register is also open to the Plunket Society for purposes of following up
Good as the intention of these provisos is in the interests of the babies, the assertion has been made that in certain oases knowledge of this lack of secrecy has deterred women from allowing their pregnancies to continue, and has constrained them to seek abortion. The Committee is not prepared to comment on this complaint, but would suggest that it be investigated, and that, if there is any justification in it, the regulations be amended so that, while fully protecting the child, full secrecy is maintained. (4) To meet Changes in Social Outlook. The Committee has concluded that, beyond the economic and domestic considerations already discussed, there are many changes in modern social outlook which are operating in the direction of family limitation, and which, in many cases, lead to the practice of abortion. Can anything be done to prevent the occurrence of abortion resulting from these tendencies in modern life ? Concerning birth-control the realities of the position must be faced. There can be no doubt that there is a widespread uncontrolled and ill-instructed use of contraceptives. As one witness put it, "New Zealand is saturated with birth-control." Owing to this extensive half-knowledge there is in many cases an entirely unwarranted dependence on their reliability to the exclusion of any measure of self-discipline whatever. The Committee is under no illusion in this matter. With this attitude prevailing in the community and provided with such a weapon —even though it is likely to explode in their own hands—women will continue to limit their families. No social legislation, however generous, will prevent it, nor, as far as the Committee can see, will legal prohibitions do much to restrict it. Two lines of action are suggested : — (1) To direct the knowledge of birth-control through more responsible channels, where, while the methods advised would be more reliable, the responsibilities and privileges of motherhood, the advisability of self-discipline in certain directions, and other aspects of the question could be discussed. It is this view which has led the Committee to the recommendations it has made in the discussion of birth-control. (2) To appeal to the womanhood of New Zealand in so far as selfish and unworthy motives have entered into our family life, to consider the grave physical and moral dangers, not to speak of the dangers of race suicide which are involved. We can but urge all those who have to do with the education of our youth and the moulding of women's opinion to give these matters earnest consideration, and the Committee is of the opinion that Jf is necessary to develop the education of young people in biology and physiology in our primary and secondary schools as a foundation for a more rational and wholesome outlook on sex matters. (5) Contraception. The practice of contraception is a debatable question, and one on which the most varied evidence has been given. Witnesses opposed this practice, some on moral grounds, some with the plea for a greater natural increase in the population of New Zealand. Others again, particularly the representatives of women's organizations, advocated the establishment of clinics for the general instruction of married women in the practice of reliable methods of contraception. They expressed the opinion, and some of them supported their opinions with sound argument and overseas experience, that the instruction of the mothers of New Zealand in the practice of child-spacing rather than resulting in a diminution of the birth-rate might well
3—H. 31 A.
cause an increase in the size of many families, for, in addition to enabling mothers to plan their families, such clinics also specialize in propaganda calculated to awaken women to an appreciation of the privileges and responsibilities of motherhood. The Committee agrees that the possession of reliable contraceptive knowledge by the married women of New Zealand would tend to augment rather' than to diminish further the natural rate of increase of our population, for an additional factor to those given above lies in the large amount of sterility which follows induced abortion —that most unsatisfactory of all forms of birth-control. The evidence laid before the Committee shows that in New Zealand every year thousands of women imperil, and indeed negate, their future prospects of motherhood by submitting to the induction of abortion. It has been shown that abortion is a delayed, dangerous, and unsatisfactory form of birth-control, and it can quite logically be argued that if a reliable and simple method of contraception was known to all married people the abortion problem would assume very small proportions. This is, to a large extent, true, but it must not be forgotten that both abortion and contraception have various aspects, and that apart from other objections there are practical difficulties which are not easily surmounted. There is no known contraceptive which is simple, inexpensive, and 100 per cent, reliable for the thoughtless, the careless, and the stupid. Contraception may be considered under three headings : — (1) The practice of contraception extramaritially, which only needs to be mentioned to be deprecated. (2) The practice of contraception by married people irrespective of all other circumstances. Evidence was given bv responsible and representative women in support of a mother's right to say when she will bear her children, and, although we agree that this privilege might well be conceded her, we are of the opinion that it is not the function of the State to undertake the dissemination of the knowledge and give the practical instruction necessary to enable the general adoption of this principle. This general instruction can well be left to the medical profession, who should also undertake the responsibility of impressing the privileges of motherhood upon young women seeking such advice. In recommending that such general instruction should be left to the medical practitioners, we are cognizant of the fact that many members of that profession are at a loss to know what methods of contraception can be reliably recommended to lay persons. A sub-committ.ee of the Obstetrical Society, consisting of members who have made a special study of this problem, has been set up, and the presentation of their report will doubtless clarify the position in the minds of the medical profession. (3) The practice of contraception by married women who, in the opinion of their medical attendant, should have temporary or permanent freedom from the fact or fear of pregnancy. Not only are there cases in which severe illness exists making further pregnancies dangerous, but there is also a heterogenous group including all gradations of health and economic reasons. Here we have the mother with health undermined and reserve vitality reduced to a minimum by the strain of bearing and rearing a large family. She approaches the menopausal stresses with anxiety and apprehension, having done her duty to family and race, often having lived an exemplary self-sacrificing life, the intolerable contemplation of a late pregnancy drives her to desperate measures often for the first time in her life. Again, there is the relatively young, tired, anaemic, debilitated mother, with a number of young children born at very close intervals, often denied even a half-holiday, let alone an adequate one, unable to afford suitable domestic assistance, oft,fiH with poor housing or domestic arrangements, and completely exhausted witlufcsae incessant round of cleaning, cooking, and the strain of the inevitable fretfulness of a number of young children.
The Committee is of the opinion that it is the State's duty to ensure that mothers within this group should obtain the respite that the health of themselves and their present and future families demands. The economic aspects of these problems are dealt with in our general recommendations, but we also recommend that departments should be established, preferably in conjunction with the out-patients' departments of our public hospitals, whither medical practitioners could refer for instruction and equipment with contraceptive appliances mothers who in their opinion should be assured of temporary or permanent freedom from child-bearing. It might be desirable that the certifying doctor's recommendation should be endorsed by the officer in charge of the department before admission, but that is a practical point which could be discussed at a later date with members of the Obstetrical Society and medical profession. Though the Committee discounts the exaggerated statements that have been made at intervals about the sale of contraceptives to juveniles, and though no first-hand information on such matters was laid before the Committee, yet we are of the opinion that the sale of contraceptives to young persons should be prohibited. (6) The Control of the Advertisement and Sale of Aboetifacient Drugs and Appliances. The Committee recommends the advertising and sale (except by doctor's prescription) of drugs euphemistically described as for the " correction of women's ailments "or " correction of irregularities " should be forbidded. For their alleged purpose of correcting functional menstrual irregularities they have no value; as abortifacients though usually ineffective their unrestricted sale should be forbidden. As stated previously, " their only value is as a lucrative source of gain to those people who, knowing their inefficiency, yet exploit the distress of certain women by selling them." An example of this exploitation was obtained by the Committee. The drugs were advertised as " corrective pills, ordinary strength, 7s. 6d. ; extra strong, 12s. 6d. ; special strength, 205." A supply of the last was obtained, and analysis showed that they consisted of (1) a capsule containing about 12 drops of oil of' savin, value about 6d., dangerous to health but usually useless for the purpose sold; (2) 9 tablets of quinine, worth about Is., and quite ineffective ; (3) 24 iron and aloes pills, worth about 6d., and equally ineffective. The gross profit on this 2s. worth of rubbish was at least 900 per cent. If it is possible to legislate to stop such fraudulent exploitation of people we recommend that it be done. The Committee also recommends that the sale of surgical instruments which can be used for the purpose of procuring abortions, such as catheters, Bougies, and seatangle tents, be prohibited, except on the prescription of a medical practitioner, and that if possible their importation be placed under control. PART IV.—QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE MEDICO-LEGAL ASPECTS OF ABORTION. At the present time there is in many countries much criticism of the existing laws regarding abortion, and various suggestions have been made for the alteration of the law. Such representations have, indeed, been made to this Committee. A consideration of these matters, therefore, could not escape our attention. The New Zealand Law regarding Abortion. The law in regard to abortion as set down in sections 221, 222, and 223 of the Crimes Act, 1908, is as follows Procuring Abortion. " 221. (1) Every one is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for life who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman or girl, whether with child or not, unlawfully administers to or causes to be taken by her any poison or other noxious thing, or unlawfully uses any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent. " (2) The woman or girl herself is not indictable under this section."
This section re-enacts s. 201 of the Criminal Code Act, 1893. Cf. s. 223, infra. " Other means " must be read ejusdem generis with " instrument." (R. v. STcellon  33 N.Z.L.R. 102.) " Procuring her own Miscarriage. " 222. Every woman or girl is liable to seven years' imprisonment with hard labour who, whether with child or not, unlawfully administers to herself, or permits to be administered to her, any poison or other noxious thing, or unlawfully uses on herself, or permits to be used on her, any instrument or other means whatsoever with intent to procure miscarriage." This section re-enacts s. 202 of the Criminal Code Act, 1893. " Supplying the Means of Procuring Abortion. " 223. (1) Every one is liable to three years' imprisonment with hard labour who unlawfully supplies or procures any poison or other noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman or girl, whether with child or not. " (2) Every one who commits this offence after a previous conviction for a like offence is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for life." This section re-enacts s. 203 of the Criminal Code Act, 1893. In R. v. Thompson  30 N.Z.L.R. 690, a person was convicted of an attempt (s. 93, p. 209, ante) to procure a noxious tiling although the thing actually procured was innoxious. " Knowing " has the meaning of " believing," and a person supplying " a noxious thing " is guilty even when the person supplied, who states that he required it for procuring abortion, had no intention of using it and did not use it for that purpose. (R. v. Nosworthy  26 N.Z.L.K. 536.) If the evidence shows that prisoner intended the instrument to be used for the purpose stated, it is sufficient without evidence of intention on the part of the woman to use it or allow it to be used (R. v. Scully  23 N.Z.L.R. 380). The word " thing " where secondly used in this section includes only things ejusdem generis with instrument and capable of being used to produce miscarriage (R. v. Austin  24 N.Z.L.R. 893). Therapeutic Abortion.—ln New Zealand, as in Great Britain and other countries, the medical profession has always held that when the mother's life is seriously endangered by a continuation of the pregnancy the termination of the pregnancy is justifiable and right. This the law allows, not specifically but by inference. It is probably a correct statement of the position to say that, with advances in medical knowledge and thought, even the most conservative medical opinion, apart from that which is influenced by certain religious views, holds that the indications for the termination of pregnancy have been extended somewhat to include not only cases in which the mother's life is immediately jeopardized, but also certain cases in which her life is more remotely endangered. This view is supported by the social thought of to-day. This is not to say that the occasions for this operation are frequent; they are, indeed, infrequent. The general standards which guide the medical profession in this matter are very strict, and are conscientiously conformed to by the majority of its members. It is also a well-recognized rule of the profession that such operations should only be performed after consultation between two medical practitioners. With this change in medical outlook, however, there has been no corresponding alteration in the law, which, as it stands, is as uncompromising as ever, and allows of no interference except to save the life of the mother. It is a fact that the law is interpreted liberally, and no doctor who has acted honestly in the belief that the mother's health was seriously endangered has ever been challenged. Nevertheless, it has been urged by a large body of the medical professioa, especially of those most intimately affected by the question, that there are possible
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H-31a REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO THE VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE PROBLEM OF ABORTION IN NEW ZEALAND., Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January 1937
H-31a REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO THE VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE PROBLEM OF ABORTION IN NEW ZEALAND. Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January 1937
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