Margaret Sparrow

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Margaret Sparrow

Dr. Dame Margaret June Sparrow (born Inglewood, Taranaki 26 June 1935) served as the president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand until May, 2011.

Early Life

Sparrow was educated at Waitara District High School and New Plymouth Girls' High School. She then studied, gaining the following qualificaitons: BSc (VUW) 1956, MB ChB (Otago) 1963, DipVen Soc Apoth (Lond) 1976, FACSHP 1991, Hon DSc (VUW) 1993, FRANZCOG (Hon) 1998.

She worked as a research assistant, Department of Surgery, Otago Medical School in 1957. HS / HP, Hawera Hospital 1964. Child Health Medical Officer, New Plymouth 1965 - 1969. Medical Officer, Student Health, VUW 1969 - 1981. Sabbatical leave 1975 - 1976 to London and Bombay.[1]

Working for Wellington Hospital

Sparrow worked as Medical Officer, Staff Health, Wellington Hospital from 1969 - 1973. She was a visiting Venereologist at Wellington Hospital from 1977 - 1999. During this time she served as Acting Head of Service (28/5/1992 - 9/1/1995).[1]

Working for the Family Planning Association

Sparrow worked as a Medical Officer at the Wellington Family Planning Association Clinic from 1971 - 1976. She served as the Medical Director until 1987. On her retirement, the clinic was renamed the Margaret Sparrow Clinic. She was reappointed as Acting Medical Director from 1989 - 1991, since when she has been Medical Training Officer and Clinic Supervisory Doctor.[1]

Sparrow is currently listed as an Honorary Vice President and Life Member of the Family Planning Association.[2]


In 1973, Sparrow attended a Woman's National Abortion Action Campaign Conference.[3]


Sparrow works for the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand.[4]

Working for Parkview Clinic

Sparrow was the inaugural abortionist at the Parkview Clinic, beginning when the clinic opened in 1980. She was made redundant in 1998 because she refused to become a certifying consultant.[5]

Intersex Awareness New Zealand

Sparrow serves on the Board of Intersex Awareness New Zealand along with Mani Bruce Mitchell, Dr. Susan Sayer, Gay Kahu, Drew Mackenzie, Joy Liddicoat[2], Brian King[6] and Graham Brandreth-Wills (as at 17 Oct. 2007)[7]

Circa June 2003, David Cameron and his partner, Peter travelled to New Zealand where they met with Mani Bruce, Margaret Sparrow, and other InterSex NZ members. He wrote,

"We had a discussion and dinner at the home of Dr. Margaret Sparrow, who is also an official "Dame.""[8]

Study on Condom Use

In Dec. 1993, Margaret Sparrow and Kay Lavill published a study entitled "A Prospective Study Of Condom Use In Family Planning Clients". Number four of forty-six points of condom use states,[9]

"Use a condom every single time you have intercourse. There is no "safe" time with regard to transmitting disease and many unplanned pregnancies occur because condoms are not used every time."

Co-authored article on First Trimester Abortion

In February 1998, Margaret Sparrow, John Tait and Peter Stone authored an article entitled "Vaginal Dinoprostone Versus Oral Misoprostol for Predilatation of the Cervix in First Trimester Surgical Abortion" in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Volume 38, Issue 1, pages 64–68, February 1998[10]

The Hollow Men: "Good Investigative Journalism"

In a book review of "The Hollow Men" by Nicky Hager in the February 2007 ALRANZ newsletter, the author (possibly Margaret Sparrow) wrote, " This book is an example of good investigative journalism."[11]

NZ Sexual and Reproductive Health Educational Trust

The New Zealand Sexual and Reproductive Health Educational Charitable Trust runs a diploma for doctors registered to practise in New Zealand and is the qualification for vocational registration in the Family Planning and Reproductive Health branch.[12] The following are officers of the trust: Anne Robertson (since 2009), Cynthia Farquhar since 2005, Donald Crawford (since 2004), Margaret Sparrow, Edward Coughlan, Helen Roberts, Sue Bagshaw and Christine Roke (since 2003).[13]


As at 11 December 2010, Sparrow was an officer of Istar, a limited liability company (LTD) and a charitable trust with tax-exempt status that imports the abortion drug, RU486 into New Zealand. [14]

Participated in Istar-Funded Research

Circa 2005, Dr. Sally Rose (UOW), abortionists Carol Shand and Margaret Sparrow, and abortion-business worker, Ann Simmons were members of the research team for a study entitled "Audit of medical termination of pregnancy data" which was funded by Istar and facilitated by the Womens Health Research Centre (UOW) at University of Otago, Wellington.[15] Istar is the company that imports the abortion drug, RU486 into New Zealand. Both Shand and Sparrow are officers of the company.

Publications related to the research include:

  • Rose SB, Shand C, Simmons A. Mifepristone- and misoprostol-induced mid-trimester termination of pregnancy: A review of 272 cases. Aus NZ J Obs Gyn 2006;46(6):479-85.
  • Shand C, Rose SB, Simmons A, Sparrow MJ. Introduction of early medical abortion in New Zealand: An audit of the first 67 cases. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2005;45(4):316-20.

Statements and Beliefs

On 20 May 2009, Sparrow authored an article entitled "Embryology for Beginners". In the article she made the following statements:[16]

"It is a giant leap from asserting that biologically a fetus is a human being to concluding that abortion is murder. Taking a human life is not always considered murder. Legally we distinguish between murder and manslaughter, such as killing in self defence. For killing the enemy at war we are awarded medals."

Sparrow is incorrect in making the blanket assertion that for killing the enemy at war we are awarded medals. In certain instances, for killing the enemy at war, we are convicted of committing war crimes. Thus her comparison of killing the enemy with abortion not only suggests that the unwanted pre-born child is to be considered the enemy, but is a poorly chosen comparison.

"Infanticide and suicide are also special categories. Abortion rightly belongs in a special category. Abortion does not reflect a loss of reverence for life. Reverence for life includes concern for the quality of life for the children born and consideration for the rights and well-being of women unwillingly pregnant..."

It is interesting to note that Sparrow holds that there is a difference between the killing of an infant and the killing of an adult.

"Everyone has their own values, their own limits and in a democracy allowance should be made for this difference of opinion. After all, one of the founders of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, took his own life by suicide."

Sparrow asserts that NZ law should not be based on respect for all life or the undisputed science showing that each foetus is a unique human life. She then makes an offensive and unnatural connection with the actions of an individual pro-lifer who took his own life.

Where does life begin?

On 20 May 2009, attempting to address the question "where does life begin", Sparrow said it "is a bit like asking which comes first, the chicken or the egg". Defining the meaning of "life", Sparrow stated:[16]

"Others place arbitrary points on this continuum and say life starts here or there but that’s only for their convenience or to make some point or other. The ovum or egg is alive; sperm or spermatozoa are alive. Nobody seems to mind that millions and millions of sperm die each day, their destiny unfulfilled."

Sparrow is correct that both eggs and sperm are alive, but so is a blade of grass and a mushroom. The fact that these are alive does not mean that they are worthy of protection. Neither the sperm nor the egg are a human life, and are therefore not worthy of protection.

Condescending to Post-Abortive Woman

In ALRANZ's May 2009 Newsletter, the author writes:[17]

"Associate Judge Gendall heard an appeal by the ASC to disallow seven affidavits, six of them from aggrieved women and one from a woman psychiatrist Dr Julia Aranui-Faed. One of the women had already gone public about her hopes to tell her sob story to the High Court in an interview for the New Zealand Herald (7 January 2006)."

Coat Hanger Project

On 12 May 2010, ALRANZ co-hosted a screening of the Coat Hanger Project with the Women's Rights Officer at Victoria University for Women's Fest. This was followed by a panel discussion with Jackie Edmond, CEO of the Family Planning Association, Margaret Sparrow, Steve Chadwick, Labour MP, Kerryn Baker and Hadley Watson, students at Victoria University.[18][19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Capital & Coast District Health Board website: Margaret Sparrow Biography (accessed 28/4/2010)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Intersex Awareness New Zealand website: Trust Members (accessed 28/4/2010)
  3. CANTA, 1973, No. 19
  4. ALRANZ Newsletter, Feb. 2010 (accessed on 30 April, 2010)
  5. ALRANZ website: About Us (accessed 28/4/2010)
  6. Charities Commission website: Intersex Trust profile (accessed on 12 July, 2010)
  7. Intersex Awareness New Zealand website: News and Events (accessed on 4 May, 2010)
  8. ISNA News, Summer 2003 (accessed on 4 May, 2004)
  9. Have Fun: How to Put on a Condom (accessed on 11 July, 2010)
  10. RANZCOG O & G Journal, 1998; 38: 1, page 68: Vaginal Dinoprostone Versus Oral Misoprostol for Predilatation of the Cervix in First Trimester Surgical Abortion by Margaret Sparrow, Peter Stone and John Tait
  11. ALRANZ website: February 2007 Newsletter
  12. FPA website: Diploma in Sexual & Reproductive Health (accessed on 12 July, 2010)
  13. Charities Commission website: New Zealand Sexual and Reproductive Health Educational Charitable Trust profile (accessed on 12 July, 2010)
  14. Charities Commission website: Charity Profile: Istar (accessed on 8 May 2010)
  15. Womens Health Research Centre (UOW): Past Projects in the Womens Health Research Centre (accessed on 9 July 2012)
  16. 16.0 16.1 ALRANZ website: Embryology for Beginners, 20 May 2009
  17. ALRANZ Newsletter, May 2009 (accessed on 28 July, 2010)
  18. Facebook Event: Coat Hanger Project Screening and Panel Discussion (accessed on 9 May, 2010)
  19. VUSA website: Abortion Panel Discussion (accessed on 9 July, 2010)