AUCKLAND, 19 June, 2013 ( – The downward trend for induced abortions in New Zealand has continued for the 5th consecutive year and numbers have now have dropped to their lowest since 1995. 

Figures released today reveal that there were 14,745 induced abortions in the year ended December 2012.  This is 1,118 less than the previous year, where 15,863 induced abortions were recorded.

While abortions in most of the age categories have declined, there has been a small rise in women having abortions in the 30-34 and 45 years-plus brackets.


The highest numbers of abortions occurred in the 20-24 year old age group (4,560) a trend that is consistent year on year.   The abortion rate in general is 16.1 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, but for the 20-24 age group the rate is 29 per 1,000 women.

The average age of a woman receiving an abortion was 25.

Just over half (55%) of all abortions were performed by 10 weeks of pregnancy. When more detailed information is released later this year by the Abortion Supervisory Committee it is expected that the number of medical abortions will have increased significantly from the 1,000 performed in 2011.

The majority (62%) were first time abortions, although 24.7% had had one previous abortion and 13.1% had had two or more previous abortions.

Abortion is legal in New Zealand throughout pregnancy under the grounds of mental and physical health or when there is a serious threat to the life of the mother.  There are further grounds for abortion if under 20 weeks, which include rape and incest, intellectual disability of the mother, physical or intellectual disability of the unborn child.  97.6% of all abortions performed in 2011 were solely on the grounds of “danger to mental health.”

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Numerous studies have linked abortion to a greater incidence of anxiety, illicit drug use, suicidal behaviour and other mental health issues.  One of the most recent studies from New Zealand concluded, “The growing evidence suggesting that abortion does not have therapeutic benefits cannot be ignored indefinitely, and it is unacceptable for clinicians to authorize large numbers of abortions on grounds for which there is, currently, no scientific evidence”.

The decline in abortion numbers is being credited to some degree to the rising use among New Zealand women of long-acting reversible contraception such as Jadelle and IUDs.  Jadelle, a contraceptive implant, has been funded by Pharmac since 2010.  Since then, the number of Jadelle implants inserted had risen from 0 to 13,600 in 2012. 

Annabel Henderson Morrell, National Secretary of the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ (ALRANZ) declared that “spending money on funding contraception and improving contraceptive access was both fiscally smart and socially responsible.”

Family Life International NZ’s National Director, Dame Colleen Bayer, noted that the long-acting contraceptives actually work, at least in part, by preventing newly conceived human life from implanting in the womb.  In this way they can cause chemical abortions.

“No one knows the true figure of human lives lost from the moment of conception in New Zealand.  Let us not forget the ones whose lives will never be recorded” she said.

In 2011 almost 48% of women presenting for an abortion had been recorded as using contraception. 

ProLife NZ’s spokesperson Mary-Anne Evers attributes the decline in abortions to “a greater awareness of the development of the child in the womb, and the ongoing work of pro-life groups around New Zealand”.  She noted that “there is still much work to be done.”

Right to Life NZ’s spokesperson Ken Orr commended “those brave and courageous women who, when faced with an unplanned pregnancy chose life for their child.”

The news has encouraged pro-life groups to continue working to promote the sanctity of the unborn child and to “care for the woman, her present need and her future health and well-being,” Dame Colleen said.

“Our vision is for a country where no woman needs to choose abortion, where every woman feels supported to be able to choose life for their child” said Mary-Anne Evers of Prolife NZ.  A vision echoed by all the pro-life groups in New Zealand.