Rising abortion rate sparks calls for change

NZ Herald June 18, 2008

Last year, 2118 abortions were for women who had two or more previous abortions, a figure which has risen annually for more than 15 years. The abortion rate has continued its steady rise, sparking calls for change from both sides of the contentious issue. The number of abortions rose last year to 18,382, according to figures released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand. This was slightly up on the preceding year and within 200 of the record high in 2003. In 1991 there were 11,613 abortions. New Zealand’s general abortion rate of 20.1 per 1000 women aged 15-44 remains comparable to slightly earlier figures from the US (19.4) and Australia (19.3) – but far ahead of other countries like Germany (7.3) and the Netherlands (8.6).

“The abortion rate is too high but women still need access to this service,” Auckland Women’s Health Council co-ordinator Lynda Williams said. Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the new figures “continue to paint a terrible picture for teenagers and families”. They confirmed the “failure” of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, which was highlighted by the High Court last week.