Abortion rates in New Zealand are falling but some women visiting abortion providers still face harassment and verbal abuse.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee, in its annual report released this week, said there was a "sharp decline" in the number of 15-19 years olds having abortions.

The committee said this was an encouraging trend. It partially attributed this decline to greater use of contraceptive implants.

However, the committee also said anecdotal evidence suggested many women with the subcutaneous implants inserted now wanted them removed due to side effects.


The implants were inserted in the upper arm, releasing the progestin hormone to prevent eggs leaving ovaries.

"Newer devices with more favourable side effect profiles and an improved mechanism that aids correct insertion are available internationally," the report said.

The committee said it had told drug-funding agency PHARMAC this alternative device would be more popular than currently-available implants. It would also be more cost-effective over time, the report said.

The Committee said it was harassment of women visiting hospital facilities, and the distribution of offensive material was troubling.

"Women attend medical service providers for a variety of reasons and should be able to enter clinics without feeling they are the subject of coercion or humiliation."

The report also raised concerns about access to services in greater Auckland, especially South Auckland.

The committee said it first raised the issue with Counties Manukau District Health Board in 2008,and had to raise it again this year.

The Committee was made up of Professor Dame Linda Holloway, Reverend Patricia Allan, and Hamilton general practitioner Dr Tangimoana Habib.