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Abortion Figures Highlight Need for Fact-Based Debate

ABORTION LAW REFORM ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND

18 June 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Abortion Figures Highlight Need for Fact-Based Debate on Modernising NZ Law

The continuing decline in the abortion rate announced today, together with a national discussion about decriminalising abortion, underscore the urgent need this election year for research into the real reasons women seek terminations, Dr. Morgan Healey, president of ALRANZ, said today.

“Today’s figures come amid a welcome national discussion, sparked by the Green Party’s policy to get abortion out of the Crimes Act, but the statistics highlight yet again that we actually have no hard data on why the rate is falling or on why women seek abortions in the first place,” Dr. Healey said.

ALRANZ believes solid data about abortion in New Zealand is needed to make sure any new legislation is fact-based. “It would also help end some of the scare-mongering around a law change by anti-abortion groups,” Dr. Healey said.

“Regardless of whether the numbers are up or down,” she said, “people who have abortions have to jump through a series of legal hoops because abortion is criminalised in New Zealand. We’re long overdue a change and politicians need to stop dodging the issue and take a stand, as the Green Party has done.”

Dr. Healey said the current law, which only allows abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act, adds to abortion stigma and actively suppresses a fact-based debate about the issue.

When the abortion laws were passed in 1977, they were based on a Royal Commission report that explicitly stated that no “authoritative study” on the reasons women seek abortions had been made in New Zealand. “Sadly, that’s pretty much still the case,” Dr. Healey said.

Some highlights from today’s abortion figures (for 2013 year) include:

• A continued drop in the abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women) to 15.4 (down from 16.1 the previous year), its lowest since 1994.

• A continued drop in overall abortion numbers at 14,073 (its lowest since 1995, down from 14,745 in 2012)

• A continued downward trend in abortions among the very young (11-14 year olds) and teenagers (15-19 year olds)

• Most abortions – 64 percent – were a woman’s first.


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