Teen abortion rates continue to trend down
Women in their late 20s are having the largest number of abortions, while rates continue to decline among teens.
The New Zealand abortion rate increased slightly in 2017 to 13.7 abortions per 1000, compared to 13.5 in 2016, according to Statistics New Zealand’s annual release of data.
The 2016 abortion rate was the lowest in 25 years.
In total, 13,285 induced abortions were performed in 2017, an increase of 462 (3.6 percent) on the previous year.
About one in every five pregnancies ended in abortion – or 18 per cent of all live births, still births and abortions – the data showed.
The majority of abortions in 2017 were performed for women aged between 24 and 29, with 3632 procedures. In teenagers, the abortion rate was 1414, a further trend down from 1635 in 2015 and 1451 in 2016.
Among the 20-24 age group, 3599 procedures were performed.
Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said this was not surprising because women were more sexually active at that stage of their lives.
The 2017 figures showed more abortions were being done in the early stages of pregnancy, which she said was a good sign.
For terminations under eight weeks, women can be given pills and have the abortion at home. After that, abortion is a surgical procedure.
The statistics showed providers were ‘‘moving women through the system’’ quicker at an early stage and this gave women more choice, Edmond said.
‘‘It means hopefully we are getting better access to early medical abortion and it means providers are able to do that sooner than they have in the past.’’
She said 59 per cent of abortions in New Zealand were performed under 10 weeks, compared with 81 per cent in Britain.
Family Planning had not actively promoted early medical abortions but Edmond assumed information about them had increased by word of mouth.
The decline in abortions among teenagers may reflect better access to long-term contraception, such as the Jadelle implant.
Family First NZ was pleased the rate of abortion had remained low but said the trend could be reversed if Parliament ‘‘introduces extreme abortion laws’’.
‘‘The rate will continue to drop as knowledge of the pre-natal development of the unborn child increases, and as an increasingly pro-life younger generation become parents themselves,’’ spokeswoman Marina Young said. Brain damage has been confirmed for a young mum who suffered a heart attack while visiting her premature baby in hospital.
North Shore resident Kate Meldrum gave birth to daughter Ruby on May 6 after 26 weeks and five days gestation, with Ruby weighing just 530 grams.
The 29-year-old then suffered a ruptured heart valve while visiting Ruby in Auckland City Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on May 21 and was rushed into emergency openheart surgery.