Induced abortion refers to the intentional taking of human life in the period between fertilisation (conception) and birth. Another name for abortion is “termination of pregnancy.”

Medical professionals can refer to miscarriage as a spontaneous abortion. The discussion on these pages, unless otherwise stated, only refers to induced abortion. It does not refer to naturally occurring miscarriages or stillbirths.

Currently the Abortion Legislation Committee is receiving submissions on the Labour government’s abortion bill. Find out how to make a submission here.

NZ abortion statistics

NZ induced abortions 2018

NZ abortion statistics are compiled by Statistics New Zealand. They show how many abortions are in New Zealand each year. The statistics are released in June of each year.

Induced abortions, both surgical and medical, are carried out in hospitals and private clinics throughout New Zealand. By law, each abortion must be reported by law to the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC). The statistics are then composed into a report by the ASC, who present it to parliament.

NZ Abortion Law

New Zealand abortion law was liberalised on March 18, 2020.  Abortion is legal up to birth with the only requirement being that after 20 weeks the “health practitioner reasonably believes that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances.”

abortion law

Previously, the law attempted to protect the unborn child unless certain exceptions existed.

Abortion is regarded as a “health service”, and is overseen by the Ministry of Health.  During Covid-19 lockdowns, abortion remains available as an “essential service”.

The Abortion Legislation Act, 2020

The Abortion Legislation Act:

  • differentiates the time before 20 weeks of pregnancy and after 20 weeks of pregnancy;
  • does not require a woman to be referred by a doctor or other health practitioner;
  • does not require counselling.

The Act reads as follows:

Section 10:
Provision of abortion services to women not more than 20 weeks pregnant

A qualified health practitioner may provide abortion services to a woman who is not more than 20 weeks pregnant.

Section 11:
Provision of abortion services to women more than 20 weeks pregnant

(1) A qualified health practitioner may only provide abortion services to a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant if the health practitioner reasonably believes that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances.

(2) In considering whether the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances, the qualified health practitioner must—

(a) consult at least 1 other qualified health practitioner; and

(b) have regard to—
(i) all relevant legal, professional, and ethical standards to which the qualified health practitioner is subject; and
(ii) the woman’s—
(A) physical health; and
(B) mental health; and
(C) overall well-being; and
(iii) the gestational age of the fetus.

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply in a medical emergency.

Health Practitioners

It is important to note that the term “health practitioner” is given the same meaning as in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.  The definition provided under that legislation is as follows:

health practitioner or practitioner means a person who is, or is deemed to be, registered with an authority as a practitioner of a particular health profession.”

A list of responsible authorities can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

Pregnant? Think you might be? We are here to help.

Abortion Procedures

WARNING: Graphic content

There are various abortion procedures that are used in New Zealand. An induced abortion is the direct and intentional ending of a living human being. The methods fall into two general categories – medical abortion and surgical abortion.

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