Final Abortion Statistics from Stats NZ

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes Stats NZ’s final report on abortion statistics, for the year ending December 2019. In future this data will be collected and presented by the Ministry of Health, in keeping with the recognition that abortion care is a health matter.

The statistics show the number of abortions is down slightly over 2018, to 12,857 from 13,282 in 2018.

Although the majority of people receiving abortion care are in their twenties, there was a slight uptick in the percentage for people in their thirties. The decline continued in abortions for those under 20.

Just over 64% of abortions occurred before the 10th week of pregnancy.

“We hope next year’s statistics show an even greater trend toward early abortions, as the new law’s effect is felt,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“During the Covid-19 lockdown, the New Zealand Health System very sensibly moved toward offering telemedicine care for early medical abortions, which allows for even less red tape, and eliminates travel for abortion care. It will be interesting to see these changes reflected in next year’s statistics from the Ministry of Health.”

New Zealand reformed its abortion laws in March of 2020, decriminalising the procedure and aligning it with other health care.

Telemedicine Abortion Care Comes to New Zealand

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa congratulates the Ministry of Health for offering telemedicine abortion care for early medical abortions to same patients during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“The Ministry of Health has designated abortion care as an essential service, and fair enough. Abortion care is time sensitive. Abortions are very safe, with less chance of complications than getting your wisdom teeth removed. But the earlier you access care, the safer it is,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“Telemedicine has been used for seven years in Iowa, and has proven safe and effective, with complications occurring in less than 0.5% of early medical abortions provided that way.

“Health practitioners are able to provide all relevant advice, offer counselling, and obtain informed consent over the phone, and courier the pills to the patient. This allows the patient to stay within their bubble. For people who live in remote areas, it saves them a long trip by car.”

Before the law changed, early medical abortions required two trips to the clinic to take the two medicines, taken 24 – 48 hours apart on clinic premises. The most dangerous part of the abortion was literally driving to and from the clinic.

“If people need abortion care, they should ring their DHB. DHBs have a responsibility to ensure patients in their catchment area are able to receive the services they need, even if the DHB does not provide them. In those cases, the DHB may organise care with another DHB.”

New Zealand reformed its abortion laws last month. Abortion is now available without restrictions up to 20 weeks. ALRANZ and others fought for abortion law reform for over 40 years.

 

ALRANZ Presents Open Letter to Parliament

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa will deliver an open letter to Parliament to MPs at 1pm today, Thursday 12 March 2020, on Parliament’s forecourt.

The letter acknowledges the Abortion Legislation Bill is not perfect, but is still an improvement on the status quo.

ALRANZ’s open letter has garnered over 1500 signatures in total. The letter and signatures can be viewed here. Signatories include Michele A’Court, Wellington City Council members Rebecca Matthews and Tamatha Paul, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, and others.

 “The days when pregnant people have to lie about their mental health to get the health care they need must come to an end,” said Terry Bellamak, National president of ALRANZ.

“Even without safe areas, this bill promises to reduce delays and make abortion care more accessible everywhere. The current system is a postcode lottery, with people in the main centres enjoying almost reasonable access and people in the provinces suffering delays, trouble, and expense.

“This situation has continued for over 40 years. It has to stop.”

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act. 

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.

 

ALRANZ Salutes Second Reading Passage of Abortion Bill

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa salutes the New Zealand Parliament’s passing of the Abortion Legislation Bill at second reading, 81 to 39. 

“We are really pleased the margin was so large,” said ALRANZ National president Terry Bellamak.

“The support the bill is receiving in Parliament reflects its support among New Zealanders in general. Polls have consistently shows support for abortion for any reason above 65%.

“Reproductive rights are mainstream, as Dame Margaret Sparrow’s winning Senior New Zealander of the Year demonstrates. Our nation is ready to finally bring our abortion laws into the 21st century.”

Jan Logie’s speech in favour of the bill was interrupted by an anti-abortion heckler. Parliamentary security ejected the offender while Logie pointed out he had unintentionally provided evidence of anti-abortion harassment and the need for safe areas, a point reinforced by the attack on Green Party co-leader James Shaw by an abortion opponent last year.

“Ruth Dyson’s speech was really inspiring. She engaged in some radical truth telling in her speech when she called out Sir Bill English for making false accusations of doctors gruesomely killing babies in abortions at later gestations, a claim Dame Margaret Sparrow characterised as scaremongering,” Bellamak noted.

“It was a night to be proud of our Parliament.”

See ALRANZ’s analysis of the post-select committee bill here: http://alranz.org/the-abortion-legislation-select-committee-reports-back-bismarck-vindicated/

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act. 

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.

ALRANZ Co-sponsors National Day of Action

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa is co-sponsoring a National Day of Action – Our Bodies, Our Choices, with Fem Force, Victoria University Feminists Organisation, NCW, and HELP.

“Now is the time for people who care about women and pregnant people to come out to the National Day of Action and show the politicians we need change. We will not stand for any more passing the buck. Failure is not an option,” said ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak.

She added, “New Zealand has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the OECD right now. It’s an embarrassment for a country that likes to think of itself as progressive. People overseas have told me they look at our record for being the first Western nation to recognise women’s right to vote, and then look at our abortion laws, and ask ‘what happened to New Zealand?’

“If the new bill passes as it stands, New Zealand will still have comparatively strict abortion laws. Even in the age of the #metoo, both current law and the new bill specifically allow health practitioners to refuse emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors on the ground of ‘conscience.’

“Politicians have taken women and pregnant people for granted for too long. It is time to demand change to reproductive health laws.”

Find out more about the events nationwide:

Auckland  https://www.facebook.com/events/2712230342161194/

Wellington https://www.facebook.com/events/494218631306305/

Christchurch https://www.facebook.com/events/849052715509125/

Dunedin https://www.facebook.com/events/462662961058821/

See ALRANZ’s analysis of the post-select committee bill here: http://alranz.org/the-abortion-legislation-select-committee-reports-back-bismarck-vindicated/

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act. 

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.

ALRANZ Welcomes Select Committee Report

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes the Abortion Legislation Select Committee’s report, released today. 

The select committee made a few significant changes to the bill.

“A section had been added creating a positive duty on the part of the Minister of Health to ensure reproductive health services and related counselling are available in every part of New Zealand. That is very positive,” said ALRANZ  National president, Terry Bellamak.

“Decriminalisation is crucial, but without good access in all areas of the country, the inequities we see now between urban and rural, wealthy and struggling, will continue.”

Bellamak also noted some changes for the worse.

 “This version of the bill increases restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks, requiring another health practitioner to be consulted, and adding elements to the test. This is an unnecessary burden on people with wanted pregnancies that are in medical trouble, that may lead to unnecessary delay. No one chooses an abortion at later gestations.

“They have also added a five yearly review to examine whether sex-selective abortions are happening in New Zealand. There is no evidence that they are, so that seems like a waste of time and money.

“But the worst part is adding a section explicitly allowing conscientious obstruction in cases of health practitioners supplying contraception after sexual assault. This stigmatises sexual violence even more, and puts survivors on notice that their health and wellbeing is secondary to the psychological comfort of health practitioners in the eyes of the government.”

On the whole, however, ALRANZ believes the statutes the bill is amending are so flawed that it would be irresponsible for Parliament to fail to pass the bill.

See ALRANZ’s analysis of the post-select committee bill here: http://alranz.org/the-abortion-legislation-select-committee-reports-back-bismarck-vindicated/

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act. 

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.