Abortion numbers at lowest in 12 years

Last updated 15:05 19/06/2012

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Abortion numbers continue to drop, with the total at its lowest since 1999, according to figures released today by Statistics New Zealand.

It said 15,863 abortions were performed in New Zealand in 2011. This gave a rate of 17.3 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years.

Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said the figures were encouraging.

"It's really positive to see that the numbers seem to be reducing."

She said it was hard to say definitively why abortion rates had decreased, but suggested subsidies for contraceptive implants may have helped.

The contraceptive implant Jadelle has been subsidised by Pharmac since 2010. It is inserted into a woman's upper arm and is effective for five years.

The abortion rate peaked at 20.8 per 1000 women in 2003, when 18,511 procedures were performed. The number of abortions has been steadily declining since 2007, when 18,382 (20.1 per 1000 women) were performed.

The largest drop was for women aged 15-19 years. There was a 15 per cent decrease in abortion rates in this age group between 2010 and 2011.

Most (62 per cent) of the abortions in 2011 were a woman's first, while 25 per cent were a woman's second.

The median age of women having an abortion was 25 years, and 55 per cent of procedures were performed before the 10th week of pregnancy.

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