4 thoughts on “From Crime to Care

  1. fgsadmin

    Interview with Andrew Whiteside

    In 2020 the New Zealand parliament passed a law that made it easier for women to terminate a pregnancy up to 20 weeks in length. The act also removed abortion from the 1961 Crimes Act.

    This past week saw the publication of a book called From Crime to Care – a history of abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    It’s author is Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith from Auckland University a former GP and abortion consultant from 1981 to 2020. She joins Andrew Whiteside to discuss this very important book.

  2. fgsadmin

    From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am today

    Felicity on Nine to Noon February 2023
    As the US gets to grips with the massive implications of the overturn of Roe v Wade last year, how has abortion legislation in New Zealand changed over the years?

    It’s the subject of a new book from Dr Felicity Goodyear -Smith, called From Crime to Care: The History of Abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand. She’s a former certifying consultant from 1981 until 2020, when abortion was decriminalised in New Zealand.

    The book begins with a look at abortion in pre-colonial times, through the late 19th century when so-called “baby farmers” were a solution to unwanted babies, to the liberalisation of sexual attitudes and behaviour in the 50s and 60s.

    But it’s the events of the 1970s that are the book’s particular focus: the setting up of the first abortion clinic in 1974 and how that went down with a strong anti-abortion movement at the time.

    Dr Goodyear-Smith says although New Zealand’s abortion law has gone from being a criminal to a health concern, the US decision shows how it liberal laws can be undone – and that New Zealand must ensure its reforms endure.

    Listen here:

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  3. fgsadmin

    Felicity Goodyear-Smith tackles tough topic in book

    First Published 1 March 2023 UniNews
    Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Health and Medicine

    A new book by Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith explores the history of abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    Few issues have polarised Aotearoa New Zealand society as much as abortion, and now Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith has launched a book on the topic.

    Academics at the University’s medical school had key roles in the establishment of the country’s first abortion clinic, where Felicity subsequently worked as a certifying consultant. Her book, From Crime to Care: The History of Abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand, focuses on the story of that clinic, opened in 1974, with her teacher, mentor and friend Dr Rex Hunton having a pivotal role.

    “Rex wanted a history of the AMAC (Auckland Medical Aid Centre) to be recorded, and of the turbulent and bitterly contested history of abortion in New Zealand,” Felicity says.

    In the book’s preface, she recalls being a student in the 1970s and taught by Rex and Father Felix Donnelly in the Department of Community Health, now General Practice and Primary Care. Felicity has worked there for two decades, including as its former head.

    “The dean, Professor Cecil Lewis, said to them, ‘Go out to GPs in the area and ask them what the most difficult problem is they are facing. They came back with issues around sexual orientation and women who were unhappily pregnant,” Felicity says.

    Police raided the clinic and seized medical files. They approached women, based on their notes, and questioned them, often in front of family or colleagues who didn’t know they’d had an abortion.
    They started offering counselling in a pink cottage on the grounds of Auckland’s med school.

    “Rex generally counselled women with unwanted pregnancies and Felix those grappling with their sexual orientation. Rex saw many women who were desperate. They had no real choices. It was very difficult to get approved for an abortion and you needed money to go to Australia.”

    At that time, Rex was a senior lecturer and general physician with an interest in counselling. With colleagues from the University, he helped set up the Auckland Medical Aid Trust and open the clinical centre in Remuera in 1974.

    Psychiatrist Professor John Werry and physician Dr Robin Briant, who was researching at the medical school, were both trained as abortionists and worked part-time in the clinic. The registrar at the University was on the trust as information officer. Over the years, University staff have continued to be involved.

    “Australian Dr Jim Woolnough joined the clinic as lead abortionist when it first opened. He was subsequently charged for conducting illegal abortions and went through two trials. One was a hung jury and a year later he was acquitted. He had put his head on the block.”

    Police raided the clinic and seized medical files. They approached women, based on their notes, and questioned them, often in front of family or colleagues who didn’t know they’d had an abortion.

    Meanwhile groups for and against rallied and the clinic was subjected to fire-bombs, intense protest action and arson, and its clinicians harassed.

    “Rex [Hunton] saw many women who were desperate. They had no real choices.”
    – Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith

    In the 1980s, Felicity worked in women’s health in Freemans Bay, then an impoverished area. She was seeing women who were unhappily pregnant. Felicity became a certifying consultant and started working shifts in AMAC, a role she continued until lockdown 2020, when legislation passed that made her role redundant. Abortion has now moved from the Crimes Act 1961 into law governing healthcare, and abortion services brought into the fold with other women’s health services.

    In her book, Felicity seeks to fairly represent all sides of the divisive debate. Bernard Moran, a long-time supporter of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, gave her plenty of time and material to work with.

    “I said to him, ‘I really want to give everyone a voice, but clearly I am pro-abortion.’ He said, ‘yeah, of course, I know that.’ He was happy just to have his voice in the story.”

    This is not Felicity’s first book on a flashpoint topic. First Do No Harm: The Sexual Abuse Industry talks about false allegations and recovered memories. Another book, Murder That Wasn’t: The Case of George Gwaze is about the impact of a false rape and murder accusation.

    She is driven by a strong need to address injustices, which she saw arising in her work in women’s health, with devastating impacts on those falsely accused.

    “I knew what I was saying needed to be said. I knew it wasn’t going to make me popular, but it helped the discourse I think.”

    These days, this champion for women’s health is working with Pacific providers on research to support culturally appropriate models of care. She combines work fostering teaching practices with travelling in her motor home. Husband John Potter drives while she works on her laptop or visits practices. In the evenings, they park up near a beach, swim and relax. Retirement currently holds little appeal, though it may come along eventually.

    Jodi Yeats

  4. fgsadmin

    Interview with Mike Williams on Free FM 89 Hamilton

    3rd March 2023

    Episode Information
    A new book from Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith, called From Crime to Care: The History of Abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand, looks into our history on the subject from pre-colonial times, through the late 19th century, and into the rapidly changing and more liberal attitudes of the post-World War II decades. But the book’s particular focus is the 1970s, covering setting up the first abortion clinic in 1974. Dr Goodyear-Smith spoke with Mike Williams about the book.
    Published: 3/03/2023 1:45:00 p.m.

    Listen here [15.14 mins]

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