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Abortion Statistics In New Zealand
as of December 2011

Key facts
In the year ended December 2011:
* 15,863 abortions were performed in New Zealand, the lowest number since 1999 (15,501). * The general abortion rate was 17.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, down from 18.1 per 1,000 in 2010. * Women aged 20–24 years had the highest abortion rate (33 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 years). * The median age of women having an abortion was 25 years. * Most abortions (62 percent) were a woman's first abortion. * 55 percent of abortions were performed before the 10th week of the pregnancy.  


Abortion in New Zealand
Abortion in New Zealand is legal in cases where the pregnant woman faces a danger to her life, physical or mental health, or if there is a risk of the fetus being handicapped, in the event of the continuation of her pregnancy. Regulations in New Zealand require that abortionsafter 12 weeks gestation be performed in a "licensed institution", which is generally understood to be a hospital. Abortions must be approved by two doctor]s (referred to as "certifying consultants" within the legislation) — one of whom must be a gynaecologist orobstetrician. Counselling is optional if the woman desires it, but is not mandatory within current abortion law. There is no statutory definition of fetuses or embryos as an "unborn child" within New Zealand abortion law. -------------------------------------------------

Abortion was criminalised in New Zealand by the UK Offences against the Person Act 1861, adopted in New Zealand in 1866. Laws enacted around this time acknowledged the danger to women of undergoing an illegal abortion. The 1893 Criminal Code Act made the punishments for illegal abortion a maximum of seven years imprisonment for the women and life for the doctor. Illegal abortions continued to occur, however, and it was generally understood that abortions performed in good faith to protect the life of the woman or her mental or physical health would not lead to prosecution. Abortions were illegal until the late 1930s.[1] The 1936 Committee of Enquiry headed by D.G. McMilland reported that one in five pregnancies in New Zealand resulted in an induced abortion. Some pregnant women died, were injured or infected, or abused by practitioners of illegal abortion. In the 1940s, the discovery of antibiotics made infection less likely, which also meant some doctors were more likely to assist. Historically, the death rate was high. Statistics of women who went to hospital after an abortion went wrong show that in 1934 at least 42 women died. Public debate increased following the legalisation of abortion in Britain in 1967 and in South Australia in 1969. The legalisation of abortion in Australia enabled New Zealand women who could afford to travel to have abortions in Australia. After a Royal Commission on New Zealand abortion law, Parliament passed the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977. The law caused much confusion over the demarcation of certain restrictions as to when an abortion would be legal, and led to a series of amendments that were passed in the following year to clarify the Parliament's intentions. -------------------------------------------------


Status of the Unborn Child Bill 1983 and pro-life schism
In 1983, pro-lifers lobbied Parliament to try to pass a pro-life private members bill, the Status of the Unborn Child Bill. It was defeated 48–30. The Status of the Unborn Child Bill caused a schism...
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