Doctor May Aung told CI News the Ministry of Health told her to stop making appointments at the Epsom Day Clinic in Auckland for women who decide they do not want to go through with a pregnancy.
“Before, I could ring and make an appointment at the Epsom Day Unit, so they could go there.
“But the ministry said I must not do that because some people think that is an encouragement
“But this is a very old way of thinking. If they are not using the (contraception) services we provide and if they are in trouble, then I think we should help them as much as we can.”
Now, women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy have to make their own arrangements for termination.
Terminations are free for New Zealand citizens at the Epsom Day Unit, however women who cannot show eligibility pay $1,300.
May said Rarotonga hospital sees only a handful of women who decide to take this option.
And the Ministry of Health does not keep any records of women who decide to have terminations.
Epsom Day Unit provides surgical abortion up to 13 weeks of pregnancy for patients, and counselling is a crucial part of the process.
Under the Cook Islands Crimes Act, legislated over 40 years ago, abortion is illegal, except to save the life of the woman, or preserve her physical or mental health.
Secretary of Health Elizabeth Iro said she was unsure where this government directive came from.
“I am unsure about this directive and am unable to get hold of Doctor May as she is overseas on travel duty,” Iro said in an email earlier this week.
The United Nations Centre for Reproductive Rights works under the guise of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
It states every woman should be free to decide whether and when to have children, where every woman has access to the best reproductive healthcare available and where every woman can exercise her choices without coercion or discrimination.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health 2012 behavioural surveillance survey among youth in the Cook Islands showed the number of youth first having sex before the age of 15 was 40 per cent, an increase from 31 per cent in 2006.
Only 42 per cent used a condom during their first sexual experience.