From the Chairperson
We are nearly through 2012! It has been another year of post-earthquake
movement: one of continuing pulling down, questioning futures and for
some, of which we hold in our prayers, still waiting for decisions. We
see empty plots, broken buildings and yet if we look around, in between
all that, there is new buildings starting to appear.
We can take hope. New beginnings and new futures.
Just as the women who come to us, P.A.T.H.S., broken, empty and
questioning their future. In coming to us, they too have hope. Hope in
a renewed spirit, an energised life, and a realisation that they can
begin again by firstly receiving healing within themselves and then out
into their extended relationships. New beginnings and new futures.
This is the same message of Christmas, when the Christ-child came at
Christmas. Jesus came to offer new beginnings and new futures for each
of us too.
May we all as we prepare and celebrate Christmas with our gifts and our
trees, take time to also give the gift of ourselves to Jesus and others
as he did for us, when he came as a baby in that stable in Bethlehem.
On behalf of the Trust I wish you all a very happy Christmas and the
very best for 2013.
Thank you all
Blessings - Jan
From the Co-ordinator
It is the end of the year and I like many others are weary. It has been
another big year in so many ways for so many people, especially in
Christchurch. I am aware of those P.A.T.H.S. has helped and the little
lives that were special to them and being mourned, and the heartache of
their mums and dads with it. I am aware of our team who each have
things happening in their own lives, but whose hearts are open and
giving to those hurting after abortion or termination, and take those
they work with into their own hearts and all I can say it thank you.
Since the last newsletter there have been a number of events. I have
attended and gave a talk at the psychologists’ conference. Sadly the
presentation was poorly attended and I was not in good form.
Discussions with various individual practitioners through the course of
the conference was worthwhile and there was some real interest in the
Things came to a head for me in June, a culmination of a number of
stresses, and I availed myself of some earthquake counselling which was
helpful. Consequently I have paced myself through the remainder of the
The Napier Seminar in October was well attended and well received.
There were some good discussions and it was heartening to be with other
professionals able to talk openly around working with pregnancy and
abortion experiences. The Auckland seminar was also well attended,
though it was a little more challenging for me as the facilitator in
terms of managing the differences and tensions within the group. It was
a learning curve. Still we have four more PCPs (P.A.T.H.S. Counselling
Partners) in Auckland as a result which is heartening.
Our team provided an education and outreach at the Oxford Baptist
Church for people affected by pregnancy-baby loss including
abortion/termination. This was a really good evening of sharing and
really moving for all present.
Karen and I met with midwifery students in Christchurch to talk about
P.A.T.H.S. and what we offer. It was great to see students seriously
interested in the issues, especially awareness of potential impacts for
them working with pregnant women and their families. We hope for more
such opportunities to dialogue with health professionals and students
of the various helping professions.
I independently spoke at the School Guidance Counsellors’ Conference in
November. This was a valuable time networking and understanding more of
the particular issues for counsellors in schools, as we explored
various ethical sensitivities counselling pregnant teenagers. I
recently gave another presentation at a pro-life training day in
Auckland which was also worthwhile.
Client numbers remain down compared to previous years but this is not
unusual. People in Christchurch are still dealing with a lot of
earthquake and life matters, so there is little time and energy to
focus on anything extra. There have been more calls from people in
Auckland needing help which we’ve responded to. For each person we see
I am mindful there may be others who could benefit from sharing their
experiences in a safe space.
The Support Group has provided another avenue of support. It has gone
well this year and will continue into the new year. It has been a small
intimate group, and for those who have come there have been marked
benefits in sharing their experiences with others. Karen is our contact
person for the group so if you have any queries or are interested in
coming along please talk with her (see Support Group article). Wendy
Hill in Wellington also provides post abortion support in the
Wildflowers group. It would be nice to see more groups set up in areas
around the country, through counselling centres or churches. I have
prepared some Post Abortion Support Group Guidelines, which I will be
making available through my independent business Dawnings next year
(watch this space at www.dawnings.co.nz)
Next year is a new year and new opportunities. P.A.T.H.S. looking at a
major promotion strategy as we have boxes of our information booklet to
distribute, and will print off tear off flyers, bookmarks and pamphlets
to go with them and hopefully flood the community with the information.
We need to be more out there and more known as after 15 years many
people and health professionals still are not aware we are there and
what we offer. It is time to the break the silence and open things up
more. It is time to make it more okay for people struggling after their
abortions or terminations to feel comfortable coming and talking about
how it was for them, as this is such a deep and complex experience.
I have been aware for some time of feeling like I am coming to the end
of being able to give as much to this work, of needing someone else to
take the helm. Next year we will be welcoming Maree Stace into the role
assisting with co-ordination. The hope is that in time I can hand over
co-ordination responsibilities, in order to focus more on offering
training workshops and seminars and supervision which is my real area
We are very keen to become more visible and vocal in validating and
normalising post abortion / post termination grief and trauma and
breaking down the barriers that prevent people reaching out for help.
That means needing to circulate more in health, welfare and pastoral
Coming to the end of the year now I hope as you too may pause and
reflect over the year that has been, that you may discover there have
been some highlights amidst the challenges, and that there is cause for
We remember all mothers and fathers who have lost loved little ones
through whatever circumstance, especially those affected by abortion or
termination. We are mindful that Christmas for you may not be an
altogether happy time, rather a poignant and painful time of
remembering. Be gentle with yourself as you remember and allow
yourselves to do what you need to for you, in order to find peace and
to move forward positively.
I add my warmest wishes to Jan’s for you and yours to celebrate
Christmas well. And all the best for 2013.
Peace, joy and blessings to you and yours
Excerpts from the Annual Report
It has been an interesting, challenging year for P.A.T.H.S. within a
shaky environment. We succeeded in achieving the goals set for the
year, and developed a Strategic Plan for the coming year.
The abortion rate in NZ was 16,630 for 2010 (the 2011 statistics are
not available at the time this report was written). Around one in five
pregnancies are terminated. Consistently women aged 20–24 years had the
highest abortion rate, and the median age of women having an abortion
was 24.6 years. Most abortions (61 percent) were first abortions in
2010 – nearly 1/3 of women have had one or more prior abortions.
Women, and men, who talk to us, share how difficult it is to reach out
for help. The stigma and shame, the denial of grief and impacts by
families, the community and some health professionals effectively
serves to silence them in upon themselves. The issues they face around
disclosure can feel huge and then the thought of dealing with the pain
and effects can make them feel vulnerable.
Counselling: There were
17 clients coming through last year totally 61 counselling hours
between them. In addition support was given to another 4 clients over
the phone, and another 6 receiving some email support. Things have been
relatively quiet. This may be attributable to the fact that people are
needing to deal with the immediate concerns of life in Christchurch,
and time and energy for additional therapy is not there.
Counsellor Meetings: We
managed a few counsellor meetings through 2011. With the situation in
Christchurch, some meetings coincided with earthquakes and were
cancelled. Counsellors have all been affected in different ways through
the earthquakes and it has been a case of just doing what is needed.
Support Group: The
support group was in abeyance over 2011, but has restarted. Karen, who
has been a P.A.T.H.S. counsellor for a number of years is leading the
group, and our student counsellor on placement is assisting. It is
hoped to generate more interest in the group, so spread the word.
PCP Network: The
P.A.T.H.S. Counselling Partners continued to operate in Christchurch.
There are also three counsellors in Auckland, one in Palmerston North,
one in New Plymouth, one in Nelson, one in Dunedin, one in Tauranga and
now also one in Napier and one in Gisborne and someone we can refer to
in Wellington. The network is growing slowly, which is to be expected
as this is a very specialized area of counselling, and requires
particular sensitivity and skills.
Emails & Phone Calls: E-mail
has continued to be the most common method for people (potential
clients, other agencies and interested parties) to get in touch with
us. There have been some emails from around the country and overseas
seeking help. We set up an 0800 number and have a P.A.T.H.S. cellphone
now which one of our team holds. The hope is that this will make it
easier for people calling to have a person answer the phone.
Presentations / Seminars: Carolina
facilitated a half day workshop at Vision College for Year 1
counselling students in September, and there were two P.A.T.H.S.
seminars in Christchurch. With each seminar we have been able to
recruit more counselling partners which makes them highly successful
for the growth of the organisation. Carolina attended and gave
workshops at two counselling Conferences (NZ Christian Counsellors
Association Conference in May, and NZ Association of Counsellors in
July.) In March 2012 she also attended the Abortion Providers
Conference and gave an oral presentation for which there was a mixed
Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats: Carolina
assisted with two post abortion retreat weekends in Wellington, one in
June and one in November. The next retreat in Wellington is June 2012
Other Events: P.A.T.H.S. had an information table for two days at the
Just 4 Her expo in April 2011 in Christchurch. In July, Carolina was
interviewed by Shine TV for a documentary they were doing around the
effects of abortion on people, and help available afterwards. 1 March
2012 we had our material at the Young Parents’ Expo, in Christchurch.
Newsletter: We managed
put out two newsletters last year. In a cost-cutting bid we have
switched to email system of sending newsletters, and will have the pdf
copy on the website.
Remembrance Services: People
are asking after the Remembrance Services. We are considering running
one service per year possibly as part of our Support Group.
Prayer Network: Our
virtual prayer network has continued to uplift us and mindfully respond
to pray for intentions for the organization and those we serve.
Website: A highlight for
the year was completion of the revamp of the website. We have included
a blog as well. The system as it is set up now means that the
co-ordinator can update the site whenever it needs it. The website
visit numbers are down slightly but we are receiving emails from people
around the country and overseas seeking support, and positive feedback
about its usefulness.
One comment came from a NZ Catholic priest working in Camaroun Africa
I am often faced with the
problem of post abortion trauma, in the women who come to me for
confession or spiritual direction, here in my little village in
Cameroun (Mbalmayo). The level of education is often very low, and
social support groups, or institutions are almost non-existent. In view
of this distress and ignorance I am preparing a brochure which hopes to
outline the problem, and also possible steps for healing…. In my
researching through the internet for assistance, your site has been the
most comprehensive and at the same time simple that I have found. I
thank you immensely and send you this little note of gratitude and
encouragement. That the site comes from my beloved country is also
reason for pride. (Fr Robert
Finances: P.A.T.H.S. is
in good shape financially thanks to our donors and FRIENDS and a quiet
year with spending last year. (Accounts available to view upon
request.) Thanks go to Brian O’Malley who is auditing our accounts
again for us this year.
We will maintain a holding pattern for the coming year. These are
changing times. The Trust is mindful of the need for succession
planning and with this in mind we are reviewing roles, and looking at
contracting more roles, and growing and reshaping the organization.
Eventually we will be looking to recruit and contract someone with
appropriate skills, who can take on the role of Co-ordinator, with a
view to the current Co-ordinator being able to step down from that
role, to fulfil some personal goals and also to be able to focus more
on the training side of things and developing the PCP network