NZ Health Insurer Provides Free IUDs...
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|Thu, 08-16-2007 - 1:11pm|
To Prevent Unintended Pregnancies, Abortions, New Zealand Health Insurer Will Provide No-Cost Vasectomies, IUDs
Waikato Primary Health, a health group in New Zealand serving 305,000 people, recently announced that it will offer some couples no-cost vasectomies or the intrauterine devices after a study by the Waikato District Health Board found that some women had undergone an abortion while on a waiting list for tubal ligation, the New Zealand Herald reports.
The health board's study found that two-thirds of the women on Waikato Hospital's waiting list for tubal ligation in 2003 had waited longer than the government's time frame of six months to receive the procedure. About 6% of the women on the waiting list became pregnant, 2% of whom had an abortion and 4% of whom delivered infants, according to the study. In addition, the study found that many women on the waiting lists canceled medical appointments because they were unable to arrange child care or transportation.
The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Justice on Monday said the government does not have statistics on the number of abortions performed on women who became pregnant while on tubal ligation waiting lists. According to the health ministry, 414 women were on waiting lists for tubal ligations in December 2006, and they had been guaranteed a wait time of no longer than six months.
Erica Amon, operations manager at WPH, said Waikato's clinics have provided 120 vasectomies and 240 insertions of the IUD Mirena. Jackie Edmond, executive director of the Family Planning Association, praised the project and said that another district health board was considering a similar program.
According to the Herald, some women's health groups have been critical of the program in part because the side effects from Mirena, such as bleeding and depression, can last several months. Jo Fitzpatrick, director of Women's Health Action Trust, said that Mirena did not provide as much comfort to couples as permanent solutions, such as vasectomy and tubal ligation (Johnston, New Zealand Herald, 8/14).
A vasectomy costs about 360 New Zealand dollars, or about $262, and Mirena costs about 525 New Zealand dollars, or about $383, compared with 1,500 New Zealand dollars, or about $1,093, for tubal ligations, the Herald reports (New Zealand Herald, 8/14).