Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Abortion rates down among young Kiwi women

More teenage mothers are also opting to keep their babies. Photo / iStock
More teenage mothers are also opting to keep their babies. Photo / iStock

The number of younger women getting an abortion has steadily decreased over the years and is now at the lowest rate it has been in over 20 years.

More teenage mothers are also opting to keep their babies, with figures indicating a big drop in the number of mothers aged 15 to 19 getting an abortion.

Statistics New Zealand today released its latest abortion figures showing a total of 13,155 abortions were performed last year. That compares to 13,137 abortions carried out in 2014.

The general abortion rate, however, showed 14.2 per 1000 women had had an abortion last year. That figure was slightly lower compared to the 14.4 the year before.

Figures showed that among younger women - aged 20 to 24 years old - a peak of 41 per 1000 women in 2003 dropped to 23 last year.

Among women aged 15 to 19 years old, 26 per 1000 women opted for an abortion in 2003, compared to 11 last year.

"The lower abortion rate indicates that the size and/ or age structure of the population drove the small increase in the number of abortions, rather than a proportion of women having abortions," Statistics NZ said.

Family Life International welcomed the news of the downward trend, but said it also showed that more can still be done to help women who feel they had choice but to go through with an abortion.

Group spokeswoman Michelle Kaufman said: "Abortion can seem like the best option at the time. But for many women, that relief doesn't last and they regret their abortions.

"We are here to offer real choices that allow women to follow their dreams and allow their pre-born babies to be born.''

Ms Kaufman said people needed to remember what the numbers actually equated to.

"We must remember that each of those numbers represents a baby, a mother, a family...that is devastating for society. We must do more to help, to support.''

The Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ said although abortion rates had dropped over the years, that should not detract from the need for "modernisation of our outdated laws."

Association president Terry Bellamak said: "Abortion remains a crime and we urge politicians on all sides of the house not to be complacent.

"Access to safe, legal abortion remains an issue in many parts of New Zealand and there are repeated attempts to limit women's rights over their own bodies."

Other figures released by Statistics NZ showed most abortions, 63 per cent, were a woman's first abortion.

Fifty-five per cent of abortions were carried out before the 10th week of a woman's pregnancy and 18 per cent of known pregnancies - live births, stillbirths and abortions - ended in an abortion.

- 13,155 induced abortions were performed in 2015
- 13,137 induced abortions were performed in 2014
- Women aged 20-24 had the highest abortion rate (23 per 1000 women)
- Most abortions (65%) were a woman's first abortion
Source: Statistics NZ

- NZ Herald

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