Access to abortion services improving, annual report shows

News article

01 November 2023

The latest annual report on abortion services in Aotearoa New Zealand shows positive signs that the accessibility and equity of abortion services are increasing. 

Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health has published the Abortion Services Aotearoa New Zealand: Annual Report. This provides an overview of the work programme between October 2022 and September 2023 and contains statistics covering the 2022 calendar year.

The report shows that access to abortion services has increased overall, with more services provided, including through telehealth and easier access to medicines through collection at pharmacies.

Robyn Shearer, Acting Deputy Director-General, Regulation and Monitoring, Manatū Hauora, says this has contributed to better outcomes for people seeking abortions.

“2022 was the first year in which there were more early medical (non-surgical) abortions (EMA) than surgical abortions. On average, people were also able to access abortions earlier in their pregnancies than they were in 2021.

“This is important because there are more choices available in the early stages of pregnancy and because earlier abortions are safer overall.

“The report shows positive signs that service access has improved across most ethnic groups, including Māori and Pacific peoples. However, barriers continue to disproportionately impact Māori and Pacific peoples. Removing health disparities will be an ongoing focus for Manatū Hauora.”

The abortion workforce has doubled in size since the 2021 Annual Report. This is due to an increase in the number of facilities providing abortion services; the endorsement of midwifery abortion services; and telehealth services for early medical abortion. In particular, the availability of Māori and Pacific health practitioners has increased.

The National Abortion Telehealth Service – DECIDE – was launched on 1 November 2022. The service includes consultation, abortion counselling if needed, abortion medications and aftercare.

Manatū Hauora’s vision for abortion services in Aotearoa New Zealand is that they are accessible, equitable, person-centred and of high quality. This aligns with the wider goals for the health system under the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act. 

In March 2020, the law was changed to decriminalise abortion, better align the regulation of abortion services with other health services and modernise the legal framework for abortion services in New Zealand. Additionally, in March 2022, further legal changes were made to enable the creation of Safe Areas around abortion service providers. These are areas of up to 150 metres around abortion service providers to protect the safety, wellbeing, privacy and dignity of people accessing or providing abortion services.

For more information: Safe Areas | Ministry of Health NZ  

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