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More Abortions in 1999

Abortions: year ended December 1999

Just over 15,500 abortions were performed in New Zealand during the 1999 December year, about 3.1 per cent more than in 1998, according to the latest figures released by Statistics New Zealand today. The latest increase compares with a drop of 1.2 per cent during 1998 and an annual average increase of 5.6 per cent during the years 1993 to 1997.

The abortion rate (number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years) rose from 17.5 in 1998 to a new high of 18.2 in 1999. New Zealand's abortion rate is significantly higher than for the Netherlands, Germany and Finland - all with rates below 11 per 1,000, but is lower than that of Australia and the United States - both over an estimated 22 per 1,000.

Repeat abortions are on the rise. In 1999, 32.6 per cent (or one in three) of all abortions were to women who had one or more previous abortions. This compares to 28.2 per cent in 1995 and 20.7 per cent (or one in five) in 1989.

The age group 20-24 years remains the most common age for abortions, accounting for approximately three out of 10 abortions in any year. These women have the highest abortion rate - 34.8 abortions per 1,000 in 1999, followed by those aged 25-29 years (24.5 per 1,000) and women aged 15-19 years (21.7 per 1,000). Between 1998 and 1999, the abortion rate for teenagers altered little, while those for women aged 20-39 years increased by about 5 per cent. The average age of New Zealand women having an abortion has risen by 0.7 years since 1989 to 26.6 years in 1999.

Ethnic differentials are also marked. European women had the lowest abortion ratio (202 abortions per 1,000 known pregnancies), and Asian women the highest (298 per 1,000) - about 40 per cent above the national average (212 per 1,000). Mäori and Pacific women occupied an intermediate position with a ratio of about 250 per 1,000.

Paul Brown
ACTING DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN
END

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