Induced abortions down in 2011
Number of abortions: A total of 15,863 abortions were performed in New Zealand in the year ended December 2011, down from 16,630 in 2010, and the lowest number since 1999 (15,501). The highest number of induced abortions recorded in New Zealand was 18,511 in 2003.
Previous abortions: In 2011, 9,821 abortions were the woman's first abortion, down from 10,223 in 2010. About 25 percent of women having an abortion in 2011 reported having had one previous abortion and 13 percent reported two or more.
Duration of pregnancy: A greater proportion of abortions are now performed earlier in the pregnancy. In 2011, 55 percent of abortions were performed in the ninth week of gestation or earlier, compared with 36 percent in 2006. In contrast, 39 percent of abortions were performed between the 10th and 13th week, compared with 59 percent in 2006.
Abortion rate drops in 2011
It is important to note that the legal environment and the provision of abortion services affect comparisons over time in abortion rates and in the number of abortions. For more information see the Definitions and Data quality sections.
Abortion rates: The general abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) decreased from 18.1 per 1,000 in 2010 to 17.3 per 1,000 in 2011. This is the lowest rate since 1995 (16.1 per 1,000).
The total abortion rate measures the average number of abortions that 1,000 women would have during their life (based on current age-specific abortion rates). The total abortion rate for 2011 was 520 abortions per 1,000 women, 5 percent lower than the rate of 547 per 1,000 in 2010.
Abortion rates and age of woman: Women aged 20–24 years have more abortions than any other age group, accounting for approximately 3 out of 10 abortions in any year. Women in this age group also have the highest abortion rate (33 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 years in 2011).
Age-specific abortion rates decreased for most age groups between 2010 and 2011. The 15–19 year age group had the biggest decrease, down 15 percent compared with 2010.
Lower abortion rates indicate that the decrease in the number of abortions was due to fewer women having abortions rather than to changes in the size or age structure of the population.
Proportion of known pregnancies ending in an abortion: In 2011, the abortion ratio was 204 abortions per 1,000 known pregnancies. The 2011 ratio is the lowest recorded since 1995 (191 per 1,000), but is similar to 2010 (205 per 1,000). Known pregnancies include live births, stillbirths, and induced abortions combined.
International comparisons should be interpreted with care
Statistical coverage and laws relating to induced abortion affect international comparisons of abortion statistics. Induced abortions are not a notifiable procedure in many countries and statistics on abortion rates are not available for many countries. Consequently, differences between abortion rates for New Zealand and other countries should be interpreted with care.
International data for 2011 is not available for many countries, so comparisons are made using 2010 data unless otherwise stated. In 2010, the general abortion rate (number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) for New Zealand was 18.1 per 1,000.
The following countries had lower rates:
- Germany (7.3)
- the Netherlands (8.7)
- Finland (10.2)
- Scotland (12.3)
- Denmark (15.5)
- Norway (16.2)
- England and Wales (17.1)
In Australia (19.3 in 2004), and the United States (19.6 in 2008) the abortion rate was similar to New Zealand, while Sweden (20.9) had a higher rate.
For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box.