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Abortion (“Termination”)

What is an abortion?

An abortion is a surgical or medical procedure to end (“terminate”) a pregnancy by removing the embryo or fetus from a person’s womb. It is provided by a “qualified health practitioner”.

Abortion is also known as termination.

Who is a qualified health practitioner?

Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, s 10

A “qualified health practitioner” is a registered health professional like a midwife, doctor, or registered nurse.

When can I have an abortion?

Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, s 10

A qualified health practitioner may provide you with an abortion up until you are 20 weeks pregnant. This means you can receive an abortion if you are 19 weeks and 6 days pregnant but once you are 19 weeks and 7 days pregnant, you can only receive an abortion in certain situations (see below).

You can find an abortion provider near you on the Ministry of Health’s website, visit www.health.govt.nz and search “abortion provider locations” or get a referral to these health practitioners from your GP or Family Planning Clinic.

What if I am more than 20 weeks pregnant?

Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, s 11

A health practitioner will only authorise an abortion when you’re more than 20 weeks pregnant if they believe the abortion is “clinically appropriate”.

To decide if an abortion is clinically appropriate, the health practitioner will:

  • talk to at least one other qualified health practitioner, and
  • consider legal, professional, and ethical standards that the health practitioner has to abide by, and
  • your physical and mental health as well as overall wellbeing, and
  • how long you’ve been pregnant.

Can a qualified health practitioner refuse to provide me with an abortion?

Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, s 14

Yes – a health practitioner can refuse to provide you with an abortion (or contraception) based on their personal beliefs. This is known as “conscientious objection”.

In these circumstances, they must tell you ASAP and provide you with the contact details of the closest health practitioner who will provide an abortion (or contraception).

Where can I go to get an abortion?

Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, s 16

Abortion services are available to people anywhere in New Zealand.

Some places may only provide abortions in the earlier stages of pregnancy. If this is the case, you will be referred to the nearest provider that will perform the abortions, so you may have to travel nearby for your operation. You might be able to get help with the costs of travel if you have to go outside of your area.

The Ministry of Health Website contains a list of service providers near you. Visit www.health.govt.nz and search “abortion provider locations”.

Do I need my parents’ (or guardians’) permission to have an abortion?

Care of Children Act 2004, s 38.

No, you can consent to have an abortion at any age. If you have made an informed decision, health professionals must respect your privacy and not tell your parents.

If you are 17 years old or younger, your health professional will strongly encourage you to have a support person who is over 18 years old.

Can my parents or guardians force me to have an abortion?

Care of Children Act 2004, s 38.

No, it’s your decision. You’re legally entitled to have and to refuse an abortion, no matter your age. No one has the right to force you to have an abortion or stop you from having one.

Do I have to listen to the other parent’s opinion about abortion?

No, it’s your decision. The other parent can’t force you towards any option – whether that’s to terminate or to continue the pregnancy.

Even if the other parent disagrees with your decision to continue with the pregnancy, they still have legal responsibilities relating to the care and financial support of the child after birth. See the section ”Child support and benefits” for more information.

Who can I talk to about having an abortion?

You can talk to a qualified health practitioner (such as a nurse or doctor) to discuss your options and to access counselling that is unbiased and non-judgemental. Most clinics and hospitals include counselling for pregnant people using their termination services.

Do I have to go to counselling?

Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, s 12

No, you don’t have to go. A health practitioner must let you know what counselling is available. It’s important to remember that talking to a counsellor might help you decide what’s best for you in a safe, private and unbiased environment.

Does it cost to get an abortion?

Abortions and any counselling related to abortions, are free for most people (anyone eligible for public healthcare).

You’re usually eligible for publicly funded health care if you are a New Zealand citizen, a residence visa holder, a long-term work visa, or an Australian resident or citizen.

Do I have to go on contraception after the abortion?

It is your right to choose to go on contraception or not. You don’t have to make a decision about whether or not you want to go on contraception immediately after the abortion even if a nurse or doctor recommends that you do.

For more information, see the section “Contraception” 

Next Section | Adoption

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