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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 12. 5 August 1970


page 6


The most important social pressures operating against abortion law reform are primarily negative ones says Dr D. Bevan, Director of Christchurch's Princess Margaret Medical Research Unit.

Speaking at an NZUSA Seminar on welfare in Wellington last month. Dr Bevan attributed difficulties in social reform to community ignorance, a lack of medical leadership, religious pressures, and a failure to win over gynaecologists of stature.

Dr Bevan quoted a recent study from Britain in which it has shown after two years of abortion law reform that of over 24,000 legal abortions nearly 16,000 had been carried out to protect the mental health of the mother.

In a follow-up study of 120 abortions carried out at the University College Hospital Medical School in London only 1% to 2.4% of the cases resulted in any condition that was assessed by either the patient or her General Practitioner as being worse.

Another study reported by Clark et al in the Lancet in 1968 had demonstrated the improvement in mental state of the patient following an abortion. Whereas the mental state of nearly 50 per cent of those refused abortions remained unchanged or deteriorated only between 9 and 11 per cent of those given abortions on request failed to show a marked improvement.

Dr Bevan referred to the wide diversity of opinions held by medical practitioners in New Zealand and suggested that it is likely that middle-aged and older doctors are not as opposed to abortion law reform as it previously seemed.

The future of liberal attitudes in New Zealand is dependent on the education of the young. Dr Bevan argued. There is a need for biology and physiology teaching down to earlier age groups, and human reproduction, taught as part of mammalian reproduction, should be taught at intermediate school, he said.

Dr Bevan advocated the teaching of nature study in the early standards at school and outlined a plan of a biological sciences curriculum that would lead on through to studies of the community and society and, hopefully, to the acquisition of liberal attitudes and resulting social reform.