Abortion Rate in New Zealand Drops to 20-Year Low, '16 and Pregnant' Show Among Factors

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By Reissa Su | January 6, 2014 3:25 PM EST

The abortion rate in New Zealand has declined to a 20-year low since fewer Kiwi women, especially teenagers, opted for the procedure.

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A balloon with the words "The right to live" is seen among umbrellas during a anti-abortion march, in Madrid November 17, 2013.

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The drop in New Zealand's abortion rate has been attributed to the wider use of contraceptives, better sex education and lessons from real-life experiences on reality TV. In 2012, the number of abortions was 14,745 compared to 18,382 in 2007.

According to a report from the Abortion Supervisory Committee, the current number of abortions in New Zealand has gone down since 1995. The committee works for the improvement of abortion services in the country. Kiwi women in their 20s were most likely to choose an abortion followed by teenagers with ages 15 to 19. The lowest number of abortions came from women over 45 years of age.

Most women who had abortions in New Zealand were identified as European. The rest were Maori, Asian and Pacific. The significant drop in the number of abortions is welcome news to Family Planning national medical adviser Christine Roke.

Ms Roke remarked that people who choose to have an abortion want to have control over an unwanted pregnancy. She mentioned several factors affecting the huge drop in the number of abortions. One worth noting was an increase in the number of women using intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.

According to Ms Roke, it has become widely accepted in New Zealand for women who had not yet given birth to use IUD.  The emergency contraceptive pill has also become more accessible since women can get them from pharmacists and nurses.

The reality TV American show"16 and Pregnant" may have contributed to a drop in abortion rate. The New York Times referred the show as portraying the grim reality of being a single mother. Ms Roke acknowledged the efforts of anti-abortion groups in spreading awareness.

In Nov. 2012, some parents expressed outrage when they discovered pro-life advocates distributing rubber fetus dolls to children at the Canterbury A and P Show.

A spokesman for the Voice of Life said that although the drop in abortion rates was significant, it should not be considered a reason to celebrate since many lives were lost. The group was alarmed of the fact that majority of women who had abortions in New Zealand cited risk risks to mental health as the reason for their choice. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / Javier Barbancho)
A balloon with the words "The right to live" is seen among umbrellas during a anti-abortion march, in Madrid November 17, 2013.
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