NZ abortion figures drop again, but don’t forget the numbers are about real people

Pregnant and worried?Statistics New Zealand has today released the induced abortion figures for 2013, and the numbers are very welcome.

The recorded abortions have dropped for the sixth consecutive year to 14,073.  This is the lowest since 2007 when there were 18,382 abortions reported.

We believe that the increased number of Crisis Pregnancy Centres, homes for pregnant teens and other pregnancy help services in New Zealand over the last decade has contributed to the steady decline in reported abortions.

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.  All of our team at Family Life International are honoured to serve pregnant women who may other wise have had no other choice but to turn to abortion.

Significantly, younger women are leading the way in the rejection of abortion.  Since 2007, when the number of teen abortions reached their highest in history, the number of 15 to 19 year olds having abortions has decreased by half!

This was the first year that the Tauranga Family Planning clinic was included in the stats, having begun offering medical abortions in early 2013.  We obtained further information from Statistics New Zealand, and discovered that this clinic reported 90 abortions.

While most hospitals decreased the number of abortions, some increased.  The following hospitals all had some increase in abortion numbers from 2012:

  • Middlemore reported 31 abortions – an increase of 10 since 2012;
  • Gisborne reported 145 abortions – an increase of 10 since 2012;
  • Taranaki Base reported 316 abortions – 272 abortions were reported in 2012 – an increase of 44;
  • Wairarapa reported 144 abortions – an increase of 20 from 2012;
  • Christchurch Women’s reported 95 abortions – up from 71 in 2012;
  • Lyndhurst reported 1592 – up from 1541 in 2012 – and the highest recorded number of abortions since 2010 when they reported 2097.
  • Southland Hospital reported 293 – 2013 was the first full year this hospital preformed abortions.

Unfortunately women aged 40 to 44 are having more abortions.  637 – up from 590 in 2012.  It is the highest number of abortions in this age bracket since 2010 when 655 were recorded.

We need to ask ourselves why women in their early 40’s increasingly feel unable to bring their pre-born child to birth.  What is it we can do to assist them in this, their greatest hour of need?

There were 73 abortions reported from 20 weeks up to 40 weeks (down from 92 in 2012).  11 were over 25 weeks (up from 8 in 2012).

Almost 10% of all abortions were medical (sometimes referred to as RU-486 abortions).  There were 1389 of these abortions, a definite and significant increase since 2012.

Nearly half (45%) of the women who had an abortion in 2013 were using some sort of ‘contraceptive’ at the time of becoming pregnant. This is a fact that proves abortion is a necessary back-up for those who have embraced a mentality that rejects the possibility of a new life.

Within all these statistics we must grapple with the fact that these numbers represent real people whose lives have been turned upside down by an unexpected pregnancy.  Some of these women will be hurting, some physically, some psychologically, all spiritually.  Many of these women will regret their abortion.  Some will be haunted for a long, long time.

While 14,073 is a better number than last year, it is still too big.  We must not forget that the number is attached to real persons, denied their intrinsic right to life.  These pre-born babies have been seen only as a “choice” by those whose responsibility and duty is to nurture and protect them.  They have been let down by a society which turns a blind eye to the horrors that would have us all weeping if we were to witness them in the flesh.

As a society we rightfully cry out for justice for the born babies and toddlers who are battered and killed.  When will we cry out for and protect the babies before they are born?

But we will be here, working to offer options and hope to women who find themselves in that place no-one wants to be.

We will also be there for the woman who has had an abortion and regrets her decision.  We do not judge.  We care.  We listen.  We offer a path to healing.

And we will cry out for justice for the pre-born babies, who are so very precious.

That number – 14,073 – represents too many real lives that will never see the light of day, and too many lives that will live to regret their decision.

Those who promote abortion in this country have a lot to account for.


Family Life International NZ runs Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, serving pregnant women throughout New Zealand.  Pregnant women facing an unexpected pregnancy, and who wish to discuss all their options can call 0800 367 5433 (New Zealand only).

To talk to someone after abortion please phone Project Rachel 0800 111 811 (New Zealand only).  Peace starts here.




40 Days for Life

40 days of hopeImage

I remember during my early years at university becoming friends with an exchange student from West Germany. When she left her home country, a wall divided it from the communist country of East Germany, and people had been killed for trying to cross that wall. By the time her year in New Zealand was over, Germans could freely travel across the border between the two Germanys, and official German reunification had taken place within a year.

When she came to New Zealand, the fall of the Berlin wall was a distant hope, with few people expecting it to happen within their lifetime. It seemed beyond reasonable for the wall to fall.

But it did.

The flame of resistance within the eastern bloc countries had been lit a decade before when Pope John Paul II visited his home country of Poland. His battle cry, “Be not afraid”, gave the people of Poland hope. A hope that spread throughout Eastern Europe, and contributed greatly to the eventual collapse of communism in Europe.

That same battle cry was also for the pro-life movement which was always so close to his heart. We have the Lord himself on our side. No matter how strong the opponents of the ‘Culture of Life” might be, they cannot endure. No matter how strong they seem, or how much they influence government policy, they are running on borrowed time. In fact, the war against them has already been won. It was won on the cross.

And victories are happening.

In the US, there have been a record number of pro-life laws being passed1,2, and it’s bringing abortion rates down. Spain is considering ending abortion on demard3.

So how might an end of abortion look? Especially here in New Zealand?

We have seen the numbers and rates of abortions drop here and New Zealand and in the US as well. And the greatest declines in abortion rates are in the youngest age groups. We can expect this to continue.

There are already shortages of staff willing to participate in abortion4. And this has affected abortion services5. The 40 days for life program includes prayer for medical staff involved in abortion, and has seen 88 workers leave abortion providers. This is something that could easily happen in New Zealand, and we know there are abortion staff in New Zealand who have doubts about their jobs6. They need our prayer.

I have noticed a change in public perception of the pro-life movement. We are now seen as the ones who are helping women. The opposition is still there, and they can still dominate the political process and the media. But the general public are more open to the pro-life message than ever before. I’m constantly surprised by the people who are genuinely enthusiastic about our work helping expectant mums. As in Eastern Europe during the last years of communism, hope is rising. And I can feel the change.

There is still more work to do. More prayer and pro-life work is needed. But slowly the public is seeing that abortion isn’t the solution that they thought it was. One day they will see that it isn’t a solution at all.

We need to hope. We need to pray. And we need to “Be not afraid”.



Get involved: 40 days for life


1.            Johnson, J. Pro-life laws and clinic closures lowered abortion rate: CDC | LifeSiteNews.com. LifeSiteNews (2013). at <http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abortion-laws-and-clinic-closures-lowered-abortion-rate-cdc>

2.            Johnson, J. ‘Record number’ of pro-abortion laws being introduced dwarfed by pro-life gains, legal expert says | LifeSiteNews.com. LifeSiteNews (2014). at <http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/record-number-of-pro-abortion-laws-being-introduced-dwarfed-by-pro-life-gai>

3.            Metaxas, E. Restricting abortion, Spanish style | LifeSiteNews.com. LifeSiteNews at <http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/restricting-abortion-spanish-style>

4.            Board forced to bring outsiders to staff abortion facility -. CathNews N. Z. (2012). at <http://cathnews.co.nz/2012/10/16/board-forced-to-bring-outsiders-to-staff-invercargill-abortion-facility/>

5.            Hill, M. Abortion clinic opens in secrecy to protect staff. Stuff.co.nz (2012). at <http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/7813405/Abortion-clinic-opens-in-secrecy-to-protect-staff>

6.            Whelan, M. A day at the clinic. The Wireless at <http://thewireless.co.nz/themes/free/a-day-at-the-clinic>


A Pro-life view of ‘Tolerance’

“Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.” G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Something about ‘tolerance’ has always made me uncomfortable. I’ve long been aware that the loudest preachers of tolerance are the ones who are the most intolerant of my own beliefs. I’m well aware of that, and the contradiction of it, but somehow it never really was the reason.

And those who preach tolerance are full of conviction. It’s their followers who they expect to abandon their convictions, or conform to what is politically correct. We all know plenty of them. I’ve also been aware of this for a long time, but it was never the whole source of what was bothering me about ‘tolerance’.

There was always something else that I could never put my finger on.

Then I was blessed enough to hear Fr Jim Brand from Vatican radio talking about ‘tolerance’, and my eyes were opened. “What might we tolerate?” he asked, “A fly buzzing around…”

Essentially he was reminding us all that when we only ‘tolerate’ something bad or irritating. When we declare our tolerance of a person, it’s actually a put down. And that’s a problem for a Christian. The worth of each and every person comes from them being made in the image and likeness of God. Whether it’s a ‘reproductive rights’ protestor, an expectant mum at a pregnancy centre, or her preborn child. Another human being is never a ‘thing’ to be ‘tolerated’, but a chance for us to practice our Christian vocation of love.

So tolerance is far below the standard required of a Christian. If an expectant Mum came into our centre, and I merely tolerated her because of her beliefs about abortion, then I have failed her, myself and our Lord.

Her, because she will pick up the difference between a ‘tolerant’ attitude and a true Christian attitude of unconditional love. It’s the reason that faith based crisis pregnancy centres have been so effective. I’ve failed myself because I’ve failed to live up to my Christian vocation, and it doing so, I’ve failed our Lord too.

But there is the call to be intolerant. Yes, Christians are called to be intolerant. Our Lord himself showed a great deal of intolerance towards the practice of ‘money changing’ in the temple.

While we are not to be intolerant of people, there is plenty we are called to be intolerant too: Abortion, contraception, poverty, human trafficking, violence and anything that robs people of their God given dignity.

It’s our mission and vocation to bring the Gospel of Life, a world where everyone experiences God given grace and dignity, from conception to natural death. And it’s our job to be intolerant to a culture of death that robs people of their God given dignity, and then so often, their lives too.

And in this, may we never be that man without a conviction!

“All men are equal as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the King.” G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)


Under fire… Again

target on back

Monday morning, first day back from the holidays and after some prayers, I’m sitting at my desk checking the voicemail. I had a message from a lovely lady who had organised a group of women to knit baby clothes for us. I returned to call to assure her that the box of baby gear had arrived and that we are very thankful for it. She let me know that since she left the voicemail, the ‘thank you’ card from us had arrived. I looked back at the clothes still in the box, and remembered a lead I needed to follow up for some shelving at a price a charity could afford. I knew the little shelf we had was only a stopgap measure, but I didn’t think it would be full to overflowing with clothes donations before I even started asking for them. Pro-life people are so generous.

And then the email arrives. Someone has spotted a blog entry about us. And we are in the pro-abortion gun sights again. Specifically the John Paul II centre for life in Dunedin.

This blog is alleging that we are using bullying, judgemental, scare and deception tactics against the pregnant women who choose to come to us. These charges are completely false. I can say that with authority, because I’m the coordinator of the centre, so I know what happens here. And what chance have we had to do that? We have only just opened!

So what’s all this about? Well, it started last November when a prominent pro-abortion activist and a couple of her supporters visited the centre. They wanted the literature that we give to pregnant women. As I was trying to explain that our 0800 number was still being answered by the centres further north, one of her supporters headed for a table of brochures in our large meeting room, and starts helping herself to them. Why would she do that?

As soon as you have climbed the stairs and come into the centre, you can clearly see our small meeting room. It’s small, comfortable and perfect for two people to have a chat and a cup of coffee. It even has a few brochures. There aren’t many there, the room is mostly for us to listen, and only then see if we can sort out some help. And most of the brochures there are probably available elsewhere in Dunedin. We really don’t use a lot of printed matter for pregnant women.

But this supporter ignored that room and headed straight for our meeting room. Did she really think that we are seeing 20 or 30 pregnant women at a time? We seated about 30 in there for the official opening, with the rest of the crowd standing, in the room, or out in the foyer.

Between that and me trying to telling them that the pregnancy centre side of the centre wasn’t yet fully running, you would think that she would figure out that the brochures she was taking weren’t for pregnant mums. They were for the pro-life people who had been at the official opening of the centre a week before.

The brochures that the support helped herself to must have been given to this blogger, as she spends a lot of time going through them and pointing out how bad they are for pregnant women. And I agree that they aren’t suitable for pregnant women. That’s why we don’t offer them to them. And that’s why we keep them away from rooms where we meet with pregnant women.

The first brochure that the blogger criticises was an old black and white (with a few red headings) one from the US. It was US in its context and very North American in its tone. Pro-lifers can usually figure these things out, and as for the tone of it, I can generally count on their tolerance. This is a brochure that I would never offer to a pregnant women. The details were probably all correct for the time and place of it’s publication. Since then, worse abuses have become public knowledge in the US. The brochure is old and American, it probably isn’t going to be in the centre much longer. If anyone wants a copy, I’m happy for them to come and take one to study. It’s relevant because US abortion providers are trying to bring their agenda to New Zealand. Some of the text (with modifications and omissions) is online here. The blogger cites accurately from it, which is much better that she does for the next brochure she attacks.

This was the “Teen abortion risks fact sheet”. Again, we don’t use it for pregnant women, only for general pro-life education. There is an online version which is an expanded and updated version of our print copies. The blogger starts off citing it accurately, reporting “6x more likely to attempt suicide”. Next she says, “She’ll develop psychological problems and likely end up in a mental hospital”. The brochure actually says “Teens who abort are more likely to develop psychological problems, and are nearly three times more likely to be admitted to mental health hospitals than teens in general”

This exaggerating and misrepresenting would be easier to accept if her link to the online version actually worked. Then the reader could actually see something similar to the brochure that she was satirising.

And the mental health issue has been investigated in New Zealand by a pro-abortion researcher, so I don’t think we are being dishonest about it. The bloggers treatment of the rest of the brochure follows the same tactics.

When she is finished with that she launches into an attack of the centre and our work with statements like, “They should not exist”.

The problem is she hasn’t actually attacked us at all. She has created a caricature of us, probably some pro-life version of Family Planning from a parallel universe. And that is the object of her attack. Her version doesn’t resemble us at all. We are not a professional counselling service, but if a pregnant women needs that, we do have access to professionally qualified counsellors. ‘Peer counselling’ is a better description of what we do, and that’s mostly listening. If we wanted to hide the fact that we are pro-life, why would we called ourselves the John Paul II centre for life? If our pregnant and worried website was about deception, why does it have our logo on it with a link to our main site?

She does admit that she would allow us to exist if we “just distribute factual information, plus provide practical assistance”.

I’ve spent more time on this than it deserves. Those baby clothes behind me still needs a shelf to live on, and I have an appointment to see someone about that. And then there are the prams and car seats that need some storage solutions too. And there is a social worker who runs a birth support group for families of limited means who wants to meet me so we can arrange referrals. If this blogger really does know all about supporting pregnant women, maybe she should contact me directly. I’m always happy to learn.


Bishop Colin Campbell officially opens Dunedin’s John Paul II Centre for Life

IMG_0847Family Life International NZ’s new John Paul II Centre for Life in Dunedin was officially opened on Sunday the 10th of November by Bishop Colin Campbell who is the Centre’s Patron.

The opening and blessing was witnessed by a capacity crowd of enthusiastic supporters. Approximately 50 adults and 15 children were present, twice the number that the Centre had seats for.

Frank Fischer, the Co-ordinator for the Dunedin John Paul II Centre for Life, started the afternoon by introducing himself, and his background in biomedical research.

The Centre is blessed with wonderful volunteers and they were introduced to the crowd, with a few words about what each of them are doing for the cause of life.

Dame Colleen Bayer, the Founder and National Director of Family Life International NZ talked about the work of saving babies from abortion and the role that the John Paul II Centres for Life have in this life saving work.

During her address, Dame Colleen mentioned a few of the recent babies saved, and the assistance required. Several of these mothers were visiting New Zealand for work or study at the time of becoming pregnant. Colleen told how Family Life International paid their medical costs of delivery through the Auckland and Wellington John Paul II Centres for Life. This amounted to thousands of dollars, a necessary expense as there is no other source of assistance available for these mums.

Dame Colleen also mentioned that each mum was different in their needs. Some mums that approached the Centres only needed to talk to someone, but many required ongoing and practical assistance.

Before he commenced the blessing, Bishop Colin Campbell expressed his enthusiasm for the Centre, and for pro-life work in general.

He reminded the crowd of the struggle to oppose the licence to perform abortions at Dunedin Hospital in the late 1980’s, and the more recent struggle over the abortions at Southland Hospital. He paid tribute to the work that Voice for Life, Pregnancy Counselling and Pregnancy Help have done over the years.

Bishop Campbell expressed his concern that the Catholic Church has been criticised for opposing abortion, but not doing anything practical for mums and families in need, but now there was a Centre in Dunedin which provides for any possible assistance. He then blessed the Centre.

Opening of John Paul II Centre for Life in Dunedin
Bishop Colin Campbell speaks to those gathered at the opening of the John Paul II Centre for Life in Dunedin

Almost the entire crowd remained behind for afternoon tea, taking the opportunity to talk to

Bishop Colin, Colleen Bayer, Frank Fischer, and the volunteers at the Centre.

There are now three of Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centres for Life throughout the country. The Dunedin Centre adds to the two existing Centres, in Auckland and Wellington.

Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centres for Life provide a physical place where mothers and families facing a crisis pregnancy can come for practical help, support and friendship; so that they may give choose life for their babies.  This offer of support is also extended to the sick, disabled, lonely and those who may find themselves targets of euthanasia-type practices.  The Centres are also a hub for prayer, education and research on life and family issues.


Rise up together in the service of life conference successful

rise up together in the service of life text 2Over 250 people from all over New Zealand attended the Rise Up Together in the Service of Life Conference in Auckland this past weekend.

The pro-life, pro-family Conference, hosted by Family Life International NZ, was an excellent opportunity for people to listen and learn from a great selection of expert speakers on topics such as abortion, marriage, euthanasia, and faith.

A number of groups actively working to promote a culture of life in their communities were given the opportunity to showcase their work to attendees.  Groups that accepted the offer included Fertility Care NZ, Pregnancy Counselling Services, and Euthanasia Free NZ.

Janet Morana from Priests for Life spoke about post abortion healing and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign as well as why we must recall the bad product that is abortion.

William B May gave attendees an excellent, well thought out way forward to promoting marriage as uniting a man and woman with each other and any children born from their union.  This is a positive way forward that focuses on the beauty that marriage is, and will help promote marriage as an institution that young people will want to enter into before having children.  The most important point that May wanted attendees to walk away with was the importance of not referring to redefined marriage as “same-sex ‘marriage'”.  He explained that the real issue was not with homosexuals being able to participate in marriage, it is in the law which is “redefining marriage in a way with consequences that have a hidden agenda”.

Fr Clovis, Family Life International’s spiritual director, spoke to a packed room about the Rejection of Humanae Vitae and the call of Fatima.

Youth at Rise Up Conference
Young people sing and praise God as they walk down to Takapuna Beach.

The Window to the Womb was opened by Shari Richard who is an expert obstetrical sonographer.  She showed the attendees the beauty and reality of life before birth through her ultrasound images of pre-born children.  One incredible fact that Shari shared with us, is that many women who are going in for early induced abortions in the United States (and therefore likely in other countries) are possibly having abortions when they will naturally miscarry.  Throughout this week, Shari has been training medical professionals how to use ultrasound as a tool in informing an abortion vulnerable woman of all her options.

There were also a wide range of speakers from New Zealand including Fr Antoine Thomas who led the children present in adoration of Our Lord; Dr David Richmond spoke on euthanasia being the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing; and Mike Sullivan spoke about the work of Saving Downs in effecting a change in the perceptions of people all throughout the world of the targeted abortion of pre-born babies who have been diagnosed inutero as having Down syndrome.

Attracting a lot of attention, the youth took their faith to the streets on Saturday afternoon in a procession down to Takapuna Beach.  Singing with joyful excitement of the love of God, the young people were taking to heart Pope Francis’ call to take their faith to the street corners and to make noise!

The feedback on the quality of the speakers was excellent.  Over time videos, talk transcripts and MP3s of the addresses will be available to download.  CDs and DVDs can also be purchased through Myriam Media.

Conferences are always a great opportunity for people to gather together, to learn, and to be encouraged.  Participants realise that they are not alone in their endeavours to speak up for life, for faith and for family.  This Conference was no different.

Together, let us rise up and serve life!

“Everyone has the obligation to be at the service of life.”
Blessed John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae #79