Abortions have dropped to the lowest rate in over 25 years.

The general abortion rate - abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 - was 13.5 per 1000 women in 2016, down from 14.2 in 2015.

Statistics NZ reported that the abortion rates for younger women have fallen significantly in recent years whereas the rate has stayed the same for older women.

Women aged 20-24 have more abortions than any other age group, accounting for about 28 per cent of abortions in 2016.


However, the abortion rate for women in this age group dropped from a peak of 41 abortions per 1000 women in 2003, to 21 per 1000 in 2016.

Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said the drop was partially due to the increase in women using long acting reversible contraception like the implant and the IUD. They were more effective as they weren't as exposed to human error.

She also thought youth were getting good access to sexual education information and services and choosing to wait longer before their first sexual experience which helped reduce unwanted pregnancies.

"Lots of people think all young people are having sex, but the majority are not.

"The older you are the more likely you are to have a more committed relationship or have thought about it and to be more organised.

"The longer you can delay your first experience the better the outcomes for unplanned pregnancies, STDs and STIs. The whole package."

Edmond did not believe in the "right number of abortions" as there will always be a need for them in society.

"It's good to have the numbers coming down but we don't want to be too celebratory because there'll always be unplanned pregnancies. There's contraceptive failure and the human factor - we don't always make the right decisions at the right times, that's just what being human is.

"Having a safe accessible abortion service is something we need for women."

Voice for Life president Jacqui deRuiter welcomed the lower rate but said this could reduce ever further if open adoption received more official support, as there were a large number of childless couples seeking to adopt.

The decline in teenage abortions mirrors the Youth 2012 Auckland University study which found that only 24 per cent of teenagers were sexually active, compared with 33 per cent in 2001 and 2007.

Family First NZ spokeswoman Marina Young said she was one of those who had had an abortion and had come to regret it. She wanted the Government to provide "complete information" about abortion-related risks and independent pregnancy counselling so women can make a decision with certainty and knowledge.

"I am one of those women, a statistic, who had an abortion and was deeply affected both emotionally and physically and I know I am not alone as I have come across many who have experienced the same, who's stories are yet to be heard."

Abortion by the numbers

• In 2016, there were 12,823 induced abortions, 332 fewer than the previous year.

• Nearly 18 per cent of known pregnancies ended in an abortion.

• The highest recorded abortion ratio was in 2003, with 25 per cent known pregnancies ending in abortion.

• Most abortions, 64 per cent, were a woman's first abortion and 57 percent of abortions were performed before the 10th week of the pregnancy.