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UPDATE: On 24 March 2020, a new legal framework for abortion became law. Abortion in New Zealand is now treated as a health issue in legislation, not a crime. This is an historic change.

This position statement will be updated soon to reflect changes to abortion in New Zealand.

Family Planning believes everyone has the right to high-quality, legal and safe abortion services.

Every child should be wanted. It is not in society’s interests to pressure anyone to have a child. Safe and legal abortion services are an essential part of choosing whether or when to have a child.

Deciding whether or when to have a child is a human right.

In New Zealand, there are different rules for abortion services than for other health services. Abortion is only legal when two doctors agree it is necessary based on criteria in the Crimes Act 1961; for example, if there is a serious danger to the woman’s life or physical or mental health.

New Zealand’s abortion laws are:

  • old. The laws are 40 years old. Health care has changed a lot in 40 years. Medical advancements have made the laws out of date, and they don’t meet today’s international agreements that protect health and rights.
  • discriminatory. The abortion laws are discriminatory to women, denying them the ability to make decisions about their own health and future.
  • expensive. The two-doctor system costs around $5 million each year.
  • inconsistent. No other medical care, where someone is able to give informed consent, needs two doctors to assess and approve it.

In developing countries in the Pacific region, abortion is mostly illegal and safe abortion is usually not available.

People hold a range of views about abortion shaped by culture, religious beliefs, family and peers. This diversity of views should not restrict access to abortion.

New Zealand needs abortion laws and systems that reflect abortion as a health care issue. Laws should be in line with current medical care and recognise women’s autonomy and human rights.

Family Planning works to ensure equitable access to high-quality abortion services without cost, delay or judgement, including advocating changes to the abortion laws in New Zealand.


Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.