Safe Areas

The Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act 2022 means a Safe Area may be created around an abortion service provider’s premises. Certain behaviours are prohibited within a Safe Area.

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About the Safe Areas Amendment Act

The Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act 2022 came into force on 19 March 2022.

The amendment allows for the creation of prescribed Safe Areas under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act (1977). All Safe Areas will be created as regulations under section 13(C) of the Act.

Safe Areas aim to protect the safety, wellbeing, privacy and dignity of people who are accessing or providing abortion services.

Certain behaviours that may be considered distressing to a person accessing or providing abortion services or attempting to stop a person from accessing or providing these services are prohibited within a Safe Area. More information can be found in the ‘Prohibited Behaviours’ section below.   

A Safe Area can cover up to 150 metres around any premises where abortion services are provided. For example, a hospital or a general practice. In the case of a hospital, the Safe Area is generally measured form the perimeter of the hospital complex. A Safe Area can include both the building in which the abortion services are provided, and the land surrounding the building.

Safe Areas are determined on a case-by-case basis and are created as regulations under the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977. Safe Areas are not automatically created around any premises and providers have to apply.

Safe Area regulations can only be created by the Governor-General, by Order in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, in consultation with the Minister of Justice.

The Regulatory Assurance team within the Ministry of Health is responsible for administering the Safe Areas application process and overseeing all new Safe Area regulations.

Safe Area locations  

Eleven providers of abortion services have Safe Areas in place.

They are:  

  • Auckland Medical Aid Centre (AMAC),  
  • Epsom Day Unit, Greenlane Clinical Centre,   
  • Thames Hospital
  • Te Aka Tauawhi Tangata - Women’s Clinic, Rotorua Hospital
  • The Terrace Clinic – Hawkes Bay Hospital
  • The Women’s Clinic, Palmerston North
  • Te Mahoe Unit, Wellington Regional Hospital,  
  • Te Nīkau, Grey Hospital and Health Centre, Greymouth Hospital,  
  • Gynaecology Procedure Unit (GPU) and Christchurch Women’s Hospital, Christchurch Hospital,  
  • Dunedin Hospital
  • The Women’s Clinic, Invercargill.  

You can read the full regulations for these Safe Areas on the Legislation website

For more information about the specific area covered under the Safe Areas, see Safe Area locations.

Applying for a Safe Area

Applications for providers to request a Safe Area at their premises are open from 1 February 2024 and will remain open for the remainder of the year. Applications will be processed by the Regulatory Assurance team and presented to the Safe Areas Advisory Committee for assessment on a quarterly basis.

Application forms are available to registered abortion services providers. To request a Safe Area application form please email the abortion services team at: [email protected].

Application process - overview

The Ministry of Health has established an application process for abortion services providers to request a Safe Area at their premises. As part of an application, abortion services providers are asked to include:

  • Information and a map of the services premises.
  • Information about the proposed Safe Area.
  • Information about any previous incidents or experiences onsite.
  • Information about any activities or land uses outside the premises.

Overview of overall process to create a Safe Area. Step 1: Safe Area request and application submitted. Step 2: Ministry assessments (including agency consultations). Step 3: Governement processes (for making Regulations). Step 4: Safe Area created (Regulations come into force).

Once an application is submitted, it is reviewed and assessed by the Ministry of Health. Advice on proposed new Safe Areas is provided to the Associate Minister of Health for consideration.

The process for making any new Safe Areas will need to follow the requirements of the Act and standard Government procedures for making regulations. This includes the Minister of Health making recommendations to Cabinet and new regulations being drafted. New regulations must then be authorised by the Governor-General, by an Order in Council.

This process may take up to nine months and is also dependent on parliamentary schedules.

All requests for Safe Areas will be considered on a case-by-case basis. This includes considering the risk to the safety, wellbeing, privacy and dignity of people accessing or providing abortion services, and how this is balanced against limiting people’s rights and freedoms within a democratic society.   

More information about the development and making of regulations can be found on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.

Privacy of abortion service providers

All Safe Area regulations have been published via the New Zealand Legislation website and notified in the New Zealand Gazette. This is the standard process for all secondary legislation created under an Act.

This means that the location of Safe Areas and the organisations with a Safe Area will be publicly available. They will also be published on the Manatū Hauora website, once established.

Prohibited behaviours

The behaviours prohibited in a Safe Area are outlined in section 13A(1) of the Act. Examples of prohibited behaviour include:

  • blocking entrances to premises or preventing people from entering or leaving
  • photographing or videoing someone in a manner that is likely to cause emotional distress to someone accessing or providing abortion-related services
  • approaching a person to provide information about abortion services (unless part of the provision of services)
  • approaching a person to attempt to dissuade them from accessing these services
  • providing anti-abortion pamphlets or similar materials
  • engaging in protest about matters relating to the provision of abortion services. 

Enforcement of Safe Areas

New Zealand Police will primarily be responsible for the enforcement of Safe Areas. A person convicted of engaging in prohibited behaviour within a Safe Area may be liable for a fine of up to $1,000.

Providers are expected to support the enforcement of a Safe Area around their premises by putting in place appropriate preventative measures. This may include signage to indicate the boundary of the Safe Area, staff training on prohibited behaviours, and procedures to de-escalate incidents.

Where necessary, an individual or provider can contact the Police if they think a Safe Area regulation has been breached. The Police may require the person to stop the prohibited behaviour, and if the person refuses, they may be arrested.

Providers are encouraged to connect with their local Police area prevention manager in advance of a safe area being established. This will allow time to discuss the Safe Area perimeter and how best to contact them if this is required.  

If there are prohibited behaviours occurring within an established Safe Area, call Police on 105 and immediately state that you are within an Abortion Safe Area.    

If there is a clear emergency happening now, call 111 and state you are within an Abortion Safe Area.    

Review of regulations

All new Safe Area regulations must be reviewed at least every five years by the Director-General of Health, in consultation with the Secretary for Justice.

The review is to determine whether the prescribed Safe Areas are still desirable and demonstrably justifiable, or whether they should be amended or revoked.

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