Family Planning believes that abortion is an essential part of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Deciding whether or when to have a child is a human right. International organisations, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have been clear about the rights of people to make reproductive decisions, including abortion, and to access reproductive health care. Reproductive health care covers a range of services, from maternity and fertility to contraception and abortion.
In New Zealand, the law recognises abortion as a health issue. It is regulated under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, and service provision is overseen by the Ministry of Health.
In New Zealand, there is inequitable access to abortion services. Barriers to abortion services include:
- Inconsistent provision across regions, particularly access to early medical abortion (EMA) in primary care which was not permitted under previous abortion laws.
- Lack of qualified health practitioners, as previous restrictive abortion laws discouraged practice in this area of health care.
- The need to travel long distances to access services.
- Stigma and shame surrounding abortion.
- Intimidating protests outside of abortion services.
- Conscientious objection from some health practitioners resulting in unnecessary appointments, delays, and stigma.
- Limited research about abortion care in New Zealand to inform policy and service provision.
In many countries around the world, including in the Pacific region, abortion is not legal or is severely restricted so it is only legal in a few circumstances, such as to save the life of a mother who might die if the pregnancy continued. International research has shown that where countries restrict abortion access, there are still abortions, but they are less safe. Unsafe abortion is a significant contributor to maternal harm and death. Restricting access to abortion is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality around the world.
People hold a wide range of personal beliefs about abortion, which influences their decision to have an abortion. However, some people's opposition to abortion should not restrict access for others.
Abortion is part of a full range of sexual and reproductive health care services. These services are essential, including during humanitarian crises and pandemics when people face reduced access to health care as well as higher rates of sexual violence.
Family Planning works to ensure equitable access to high-quality abortion services without cost, delay, or judgement, including advocating for expanded provision, training, and research.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.