AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand’s abortion rate is continuing to trend downward, according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand Wednesday.
The number of reported induced abortions in the country was 14,073 in 2013. This is down from 14,745 in 2012. The general abortion rate of 15.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 – 44 years is the lowest since 1994, when it was 15.3 per 1,000.
Abortion numbers peaked in 2003, when 18,511 were reported. The numbers have been declining for six consecutive years.
All pro-life groups in New Zealand are welcoming the news, while lamenting the fact that just over 14,000 unborn children lost their lives.
“While these so-called contraceptives may be having an effect on the reported abortion numbers, many more unknown early abortions are occurring every day through the use of abortifacient implants, IUDs and Depo Provera.”
Voice for Life National President Bernard Moran said in a newsletter that he feels “a sense of great sadness and loss for the more than 14,000 human beings who were denied social justice and their fundamental human right to life last year in NZ.”
The reasons behind the declining abortions are unclear although there are many theories.
Family First NZ said in a statement that they believe the abortion rate will continue to drop as more people learn about prenatal development.
“The ‘bunch of cells’ argument which has driven the right-to-abortion argument is now just ‘flat earth science’. As the average person has learnt more about the biology of prenatal development, they have become more ‘pro-life,’” said Marina Young, spokesperson for Family First NZ and founder of the Buttons Project.
Another contributor to the falling number of abortions, according to Dame Colleen Bayer, national director of Family Life International NZ, is the work of crisis pregnancy centres. “Women need to know that there is support for them to bring their baby to birth. They see that we can support them no matter what their circumstances are and this gives them hope.”
Pro-abortion groups such as the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) and Family Planning are suggesting that Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives may be responsible.
But Dame Bayer is quick to dismiss this claim. “While these so-called contraceptives may be having an effect on the reported abortion numbers, many more unknown early abortions are occurring every day through the use of abortifacient implants, IUDs and Depo Provera,” she told LifeSiteNews.
“The true death toll will never be known,” she added.
Many groups linked today’s statistics to the Green Party’s recent plan to reform abortion law.
Mary-Anne Evers, spokesperson for Pro Life NZ, pointed out that the latest statistics reiterate the importance of accurate data collection in order to better understand what women need in this area.
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She noted that in Canada abortion statistics are not kept accurately. “Abortion records are left to individual states, institutions, and practitioners, making accurate statistics virtually impossible,” she said. She fears that the “recent proposals by the Greens… would be a backward step along these lines.”
The debate between pro-life and pro-abortion groups, sparked by the Green’s policy, has failed to gain much traction in the secular media. Neither has it garnered the attention of Church leaders.
Ken Orr, spokesperson for Right to Life New Zealand, is concerned that no statements have been made by any churches in New Zealand regarding abortion since the Green Party’s abortion policy was released. “Why are many of our churches silent on this crucial justice issue?” he asked in a post on his website.
All groups are hopeful that their continued efforts to promote a culture of life will be rewarded with further reductions in the 2014 abortion figures.
Some of the statistics from the report:
- Abortions on 15-19 year olds have halved since 2007.
- Family Planning Tauranga, an IPPF affiliate and the first clinic in New Zealand licensed to do abortions, oversaw 90 medical abortions.
- The number of women aged 40-44 having abortions increased from 590 in 2012 to 637 in 2013.
- 73 abortions were reported between 20 weeks and term. Eleven of those abortions were over 25 weeks.
- Almost 10 percent of all abortions in 2013 were medical abortions (RU-486).