Commentary on the 2012 abortion statistics

Statistics NZ on 19th June 2013 revealed a significant decrease in the annual number of abortions with 14, 745 being performed up to 31st December 2012, compared with 15, 863 in 2011 and 17,900 in 2008.

Any decrease in the sad numbers has to be good news.

Nobody really knows why the number of abortions registered every year is decreasing. We can speculate, for example, the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ (ALRANZ) claims that the decrease may be due to more widespread use of contraceptives.

Voice for Life could argue that it is due to a greater awareness of what babies look like in the womb. Ultrasound pictures are now very common and pregnant women show them to their friends, work colleagues and family members. Such pictures may have some influence on choosing whether to have an abortion or continue the pregnancy.

How the statistics are gathered

New Zealand law requires reliable abortion statistics collected and published annually. In Australia, it is left to the state governments to record the number of abortions performed and only South Australia keeps accurate records. This state of affairs makes it difficult for social scientists, researchers and statisticians to gauge the annual numbers, but they are thought to be around 70,000 per annum.

When the first abortion clinic opened in Auckland in April 1974, accurate records were kept and with the passing of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act (1977) every abortion had to be performed at a licenced clinic or hospital and the records sent to the Abortion Supervisory Committee who share them with Government statistics.

From April 1974 up to the 31st December 2012, the records show 466,688 abortions being performed. Those babies killed in 1974 would now be 39 years old had they been allowed to live.

An epitaph for the 14,745 babies

Each one was a unique, individual human person, growing in the womb towards their future – which was not to be. They were denied their future and as is the normal practice, their remains were labelled “medical waste”, collected by a waste collection contractor and incinerated.

The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once said that the one person’s death is a “tragedy”, the deaths of thousands “mere statistics”.

If you are 39, and under spare a thought for those vulnerable little ones, the victims of “choice”. You were lucky that you dodged the abortion bullet.

They didn’t have to die. There were and are thousands of couples around New Zealand who because of fertility issues are unable to have children. They would love to adopt those babies through Open Adoption.

Each abortion is a terrible tragedy and so we work towards a better more humane solution that doesn’t involve violence and killing.

Key Facts – Statistics NZ (year ended 2012)

  • 14,745 abortions were performed in New Zealand in 2012, the lowest number since 1995 (13,652).
  • The general abortion rate was 16.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, down from 17.3 per 1,000 in 2011.
  • Women aged 20-24 years had the highest abortion rate (29 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20-24 years).
  • The median age of women having an abortion was 25 years.
  • Most abortions (62%) were a woman’s first abortion.
  • 55% of abortions were performed before the 10th week of the pregnancy.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Abortion Supervisory Committee Report 2012

Download the report here.
The ASC is the body whose role it is to oversee the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act.  The ASC is described in full in the Legislation, which can be found here.

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