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New Zealand Abortion Statistics

Facts and figures relating to the frequency of abortion in New Zealand.

New Zealand Abortion Statistics: Facts and figures relating to the frequency of abortion in New Zealand.

Nationwide abortion statistics for New Zealand are presented to the House of Representatives each year by the Abortion Supervisory Committee. The following information has been gleaned from their 2016 report and combined with population data from Stats NZ to provide an overview of the frequency and demography of abortion in New Zealand.

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ANNUAL ABORTION STATISTICS

  • In 2015, a reported 13,155 abortions took place in New Zealand. There were 13,137 reported abortions in 2014 and 14,073 abortions in 2013.
  • Annual New Zealand abortion totals by selected years:
    2015 2010 2005 2000 1995 1990 1985 1980
    13,155 16,630 17,531 16,103 13,652 11,173 7,130 5,945
    2015 2010 2005 2000
    13,155 16,630 17,531 16,103
    1995 1990 1985 1980
    13,652 11,173 7,130 5,945
  • In 2015, approximately 17.7% of all New Zealand pregnancies (excluding spontaneous miscarriages) ended in abortion. This is down from 18.6% in 2014 and 19.2% in 2013.
  • Total annual abortions in New Zealand have increased 121% since 1980, the first year that nationwide abortion totals were reported. The total number of annual abortions more than doubled between 1980 and 1993. There were 18,511 abortions reported in 2003, which is the highest total on record.
  • The highest number of reported abortions occurred at the Epsom Day Unit in Auckland (3,627), Wellington Hospital (1,864), and the Lyndhurst Clinic in Christchurch (1,583).

WHO HAS ABORTIONS?

  • In 2015, residents of Auckland accounted for 38% of all New Zealand abortions. Residents of Canterbury accounted for 12%, and residents of Wellington accounted for 11%. Approximately 8% of New Zealand abortions in 2015 were performed on non-residents.
  • Most New Zealand abortions (53.5%) are performed on women in their 20s. Teenagers account for 12.6% of New Zealand abortions.
  • Percentage of 2015 abortions by age of mother:
    11–14 years 15–19 years 20–24 years 25–29 years 30–34 years 35–39 years ≥40 years
    0.2% 12.4% 28.7% 24.7% 17.6% 11.3% 5.0%
    11–14 years 15–19 years 20–24 years 25–29 years
    0.2% 12.4% 28.7% 24.7%
    30–34 years 35–39 years ≥40 years
    17.6% 11.3% 5.0%
  • In 2015, women with no prior abortions accounted for 63.5% of all abortions in New Zealand. Women with at least one prior live birth accounted for 56.9% of all New Zealand abortions.
  • Ethnic minorities in New Zealand are more likely to have an abortion than women of European descent.
  • Women of European descent account for 74.6% of New Zealand's population* but only 51.6% of New Zealand's abortions. Maori women account for 15.6% of the population and 20.9% of all abortions. Asian women account for 12.2% of the population and 16.2% of all abortions. Pacific women account for 7.8% of the population and 10.1% of all abortions.

    *Population percentages come from New Zealand's 2013 census.

WHY DO ABORTIONS OCCUR?

Strictly speaking, elective abortion is not legal in New Zealand. Before an abortion can take place, two doctors must certify that the abortion is medically necessary. As such, a medical reason is required for every abortion that takes place in Zealand. In practice, "Danger to Mental Health" has become the de facto classification for elective abortion. In 2015, it was the statutory reason for 97.4% of all New Zealand abortions.

  • Approximately 0.2% of all 2015 abortions were performed to save the life of the mother.
  • Approximately 1.2% of all 2015 abortions were performed because of fetal anomaly.
  • Approximately 43% of all 2015 abortions occurred despite the use of contraception.

WHEN DO ABORTIONS OCCUR?

  • In 2015, 55% of New Zealand abortions were performed before the 10 weeks' gestation.*
  • Approximately 9.7% of all 2015 abortions occurred between 13-20 weeks' gestation; 0.4% occurred after 20 weeks' gestation.*
  • Percentage of 2015 abortions by weeks of gestation:*
    <8 wks 8-12 wks 13-16 wks 17-20 wks 21+ wks
    18.7% 71.1% 7.8% 1.9% 0.4%

    *Gestational weeks are measured from the first day of the woman's last menstruation and not from the day of conception. Though it does not provide an accurate fetal age (which is roughly 2 weeks less than the gestational age), it is the simplest way for an OB/GYN to age a pregnancy since the day of conception is often not known. Hence, if an abortion occurs at 8 weeks gestation, it is actually aborting a 6 week embryo. The images on our Prenatal Development and Abortion Pictures pages are more precisely captioned with fetal ages in accordance with standard teaching texts on prenatal development.

HOW DOES ABORTION TAKE PLACE?

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