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Abortions Increase In 2001

Abortions: Year ended December 2001

There were 16,400 abortions performed in New Zealand during the December 2001 year, 300 or 1.9 percent more than in 2000, Statistics New Zealand reported today. A growing proportion of these abortions are repeat abortions. In 2001, 34.0 percent of all abortions were to women who had had one or more previous abortions. This compares with 28.6 percent in 1996, and 23.2 percent in 1991.

The abortion rate (number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15?44 years) rose from 19.0 in 2000 to a high of 19.4 per 1,000 in 2001. New Zealand's abortion rate is higher than that of 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 22.2 per 1,000.

The age group 20?24 years remains the most common age for abortions, accounting for approximately three out of ten abortions in 2001. Women in this age group had the highest abortion rate of 37.5 abortions per 1,000 in the 2001 year, followed by those aged 25?29 years (26.3 per 1,000) and teenagers aged 15?19 years (24.1 per 1,000). Between 2000 and 2001, the abortion rate for teenagers aged 15?19 years increased by 2.6 percent, while that for women aged 20?34 years increased by an average of 4.1 percent. The average age of New Zealand women having an abortion has risen by 0.4 years since 1991 to 26.5 years in 2001.

Ethnic differentials are also marked. European women had the lowest abortion ratio (207 abortions per 1,000 known pregnancies) and Asian women the highest (364 per 1,000) in 2001. The Asian women's ratio is about 61 percent above the national average (226 per 1,000). Mäori women and Pacific women recorded abortion ratios of 280 and 255 per 1,000 respectively.

The majority of abortions in any year are to never married women. These women accounted for around 60 percent of all abortions during 1991?2001. Over the same period, the proportion of abortions to women living in de facto unions increased from 8 percent to 14 percent. In contrast, the proportion of abortions to married and separated women declined from 30 percent to 24 percent. These changes partly reflect the trends towards fewer and later marriages and the growth of de facto unions.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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