Please note that abortion services are available during all Covid-19 Alert Levels.
Abortion legislation changes
On 24 March 2020 changes were made to the law 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.
The abortion legislation is available on the New Zealand Legislation website.
Please note this amendment updates the primary legislation for abortion, set out in the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 and the Crimes Act 1961.
Considering an abortion
Finding out you are pregnant is different for everyone.
If you are pregnant, there are different options available to you:
- parenting – either with a partner or alone
- adoption or foster care
- abortion – a safe procedure that intentionally ends a pregnancy.
You might know which option you would like to choose, or you might find this decision more difficult or complex. If you are pregnant and are not sure whether you want to continue with the pregnancy, there is support available for you.
You can contact a health practitioner to discuss your options, including continuing a pregnancy or abortion, and to access counselling that is unbiased and non-judgmental.
Counselling is not mandatory – a health practitioner cannot insist that you have counselling before providing abortion services.
Most abortion services and related counselling services are free in New Zealand to any pregnant person eligible for publicly funded health care. However, you may need to pay for an ultrasound scan.
Timing for abortion services
If you are not more than 20 weeks pregnant, a qualified health practitioner may provide abortion services.
If you are more than 20 weeks pregnant, a qualified health practitioner may provide abortion services if they reasonably believe that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances (taking into account your physical and mental health and overall wellbeing and the gestational age of the fetus). The practitioner must consult with another qualified health practitioner before providing abortion services.
Methods of abortion available in New Zealand
Two different methods of abortion are used in New Zealand.
- Medical abortion – this involves taking pills to end the pregnancy.
- Surgical abortion – this involves a minor operation.
Talk to a health practitioner as soon as you can – the procedure becomes more complex as the pregnancy progresses and the risks increase.
Accessing abortion services
While you do not need a referral to access abortion services, it may be helpful to visit a GP to confirm how many weeks pregnant you are. Your GP may carry out some other tests and refer you for an ultrasound scan.
No matter how many weeks pregnant you are, you can contact a health practitioner such as a general practitioner (GP), midwife, Family Planning Clinic or an abortion service provider in your area to find out about abortion services that meet your specific needs. They can also provide non-judgmental and unbiased counselling about your options.
Abortion services are available to people everywhere in New Zealand, but in some regions you may have to travel to a nearby area to access the service.
See our list of abortion service providers to find out about services in your area.
Some health practitioners (or other staff members such as receptionists) may have a conscientious objection to abortion and they can decline to discuss, provide or assist with abortion services. If this is the case, they must tell you how to access the contact details of the closest provider who can provide the service. If they don’t, you can complain to the Health and Disability Commissioner.
For more information
- Talk to your general practitioner (GP).
- Contact your local Family Planning clinic.
- Call the Ministry of Health’s Contact Centre on 0800 499 500.
- Call an abortion service provider in your area.