Reported Abortion in New Zealand: A 2022 Overview

The Ministry of Health recently released information about induced abortion in New Zealand for the year 2022. The data provided here is drawn from the Abortion Services Aotearoa New Zealand Annual Report 2023 and presents a concise overview of the report.

General Statistics

According to the latest report, there were 14,164 reported induced abortions in 2022. These numbers average almost 39 abortions every single day of the year, or 272 every week.

The number of abortions has increased 6.8% from 2021, when 13,257 abortions were reported. It is a significant rise since the low of 12,823 in 2016.

It is the highest number of reported abortions since 2012 when there were 14,745.  

There were 14 induced abortions for every 1,000 females aged 15-44 years.

For every 1,000 known pregnancies, there were 193 abortions.

43% were already mothers, having previously given birth to at least one child before this pregnancy and abortion.  

While the majority of women had not had a prior abortion, still a significant number were returning for a second or subsequent abortion. A small number were returning for their fourth or more abortion.

Abortion Procedures

There are two main types of abortion procedures: medical and surgical.

Medical abortions involve taking medication, Mifepristone, a progesterone blocker, and Misoprostol, which causes the womb to contract. If taken up to 70 days of pregnancy (10 weeks), the process is known as Early Medical Abortion (EMA).  

The majority of abortions in 2022 were Early Medical Abortions (50.6%). An ongoing trend as the net of those permitted to prescribe the pills widens, and the availability of abortion by post, so-called telehealth, takes hold.

EMA accounted for 7,171 of the reported abortions, while 6,764 were surgical abortions. The remainder were later medical abortions, failed abortions, and administration errors. Actual figures were not provided in the report.


Common complications reported include:

  • Retained placenta or fetal remains (133)*
  • Haemorrhage (50)*
  • Infection (20)
  • Perforation of uterus (6)

Of those with complications, women undergoing an Early Medical Abortion were more likely to have retained the placenta or fetal remains than in a surgical abortion.  

*These complications were also grouped as problems that occurred together or with another complication.

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Age Statistics

All age groups saw an increase in the number of abortions performed in 2022, except for those under the age of 15 and over 40 years.

Women aged 20-24 years obtained the most abortions, followed closely by those in the 25-29 year group.

An upward trend continues in the number of women in their 30s obtaining abortions.

Significantly, there was a sharp increase in the number of teens aged 15-19 years having an abortion.


  • European women had 7,557 abortions (48%).  
  • Maori women had 3629 abortions (26%).
  • Asian women had 2487 abortions (17%).
  • Pacific women had 1356 abortions (9%)

There is a concerning trend upward in Maori, and to a lesser degree, Pacific women having abortions. 

Both these groups have a high incidence of teen abortion, hovering above 10% of total abortions for each ethnicity.

Late-Term Abortion

No data about late-term abortion (after 20 weeks gestation) was provided in the Abortion Services Aotearoa New Zealand Annual Report.

Average gestational ages within ethnic groups were:

  • Non-Maori, non-Pacific peoples – 7 weeks, 5 days
  • Maori – 8 weeks, 3 days
  • Pacific peoples – 9 weeks

These averages were the only meaningful information provided about gestation at the time of the abortion.

Where Abortions Occurred

The data gives an insight into where abortions are taking place. The highest number of abortions was in Auckland DHB, with a total of 4,702 procedures, followed by Canterbury with 1,515, and Capital and Coast (Wellington) with 1,345.


The number of abortion workers increased from 2021, when there were 162, to 348 in 2022.

There were 103 medical staff, 219 nurses, and 26 midwives involved in providing abortions.

Most of the midwives providing abortions are located in the Northern region (22 midwives).


Contraception and abortion go hand in hand, and there is a concerted effort to provide women with contraceptives, particularly Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs), at the time of their abortion. These devices include IUDs – both Copper and hormonal – and implants.

At the time of their abortion, 73% of women were given contraception.

Many of the contraceptives provided have a mode of action that includes making the womb hostile to newly conceived life implanting. This mode of action is known as “abortifacient.” Therefore, many more nascent human lives will be lost and never accounted for.


Abortion is on the rise again in New Zealand after freefalling for many years and then remaining stable for a time. These sobering statistics ought to move all people of goodwill to deliver services and provide support to women and families, allowing them to embrace the gift of new life when it comes. Never let it be forgotten that each of the 14,164 abortions in 2022 was the death of a human being at the very beginning of their life. Their tragic and often violent deaths negatively impact so many others connected to them. In the end, the whole of society suffers. 

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