New data shows Aotearoa’s abortion rate has fallen to its lowest in more than 25 years.
Data from Statistics New Zealand released today shows that 12,823 abortions were performed in New Zealand in 2016. The number is 332 fewer than 2015, when 13,155 abortions were performed.
Eighteen per cent of known pregnancies in Aotearoa last year were aborted.
Overall, New Zealand’s abortion rate in 2016 was 13.5 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. That’s down from an abortion rate of 14.2 per 1,000 women in 2015.
The data also shows women between the ages of 20 and 24 had the highest abortion rate (21 abortions per 1,000 women). That’s about half of what the abortion rate was for women in the same age group in 2003, when the abortion rate was 41 for every 1,000 women from 20-24.
The abortion rate for women aged 15-19 years decreased to a record low, down from 26 per 1,000 in 2003 to 9 per 1,000 in 2016.
In 2016, 39 per cent of women having an abortion were under 25 years old, compared with 51 per cent in 2003. Further, most abortions (64 per cent) were a woman’s first abortion, and 57 per cent of abortions were performed before the 10th week of the pregnancy.
The data also shows that 57 per cent of women having an abortion last year had already given birth before, compared with 49 per cent in 2003. According to Statistics New Zealand, this reflects a drop in the proportion of younger women having abortions.
Reasons behind the decline in abortions were not included in the data release. However, in reporting on the story, the New Zealand Herald speculated that one reason could be fewer young people are sexually active. They cited a Youth 2012 Auckland University study that found that 24 per cent of teenagers in New Zealand were sexually active, as opposed to 33 per cent in 2007 and in 2001.
The information released by Statistics New Zealand did not include the number of women who were denied an abortion by their physicians.
The Statistics New Zealand data release also compared New Zealand’s abortion rate to other developed nations. While Aotearoa had a higher abortion rate than Germany (7 abortions per 1,000 women), the Netherlands (8.6) and Finland (9.7), the rate was lower than Norway (13.8), Denmark (14.6), the United States (14.6 in 2014), England (16.6) and Sweden (20.9).
The full report can be found on the Statistics New Zealand website.
In the year ended December 2016:
-12,823 abortions were performed in New Zealand, 332 (3 per cent) fewer than in 2015 (13,155).
- The general abortion rate was 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, down from 14.2 per 1,000 in 2015.
- Women aged 20–24 years had the highest abortion rate (21 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 years).
- The abortion rate for women 15-19 years was 9 per cent.
- Most abortions (64 per cent) were a woman's first abortion.
- 57 per cent of abortions were performed before the 10th week of pregnancy.
- 18 per cent of known pregnancies were aborted.
- 7,283 abortions were among Pākehā women.
- 2,896 were among Māori women.
- 1,380 abortions were among Pasifika women.
- 2,563 abortions were among Asian women.
Source: Statistics New Zealand