Is abortion legal in New Zealand?
Abortion is illegal in New Zealand unless two certifying consultants approve.
Certifying consultants can approve an abortion up to 20 weeks gestation if:
- there is serious danger to the life, physical or mental health of the pregnant person
- there is substantial risk of serious mental or physical disability to the child if born
- the pregnancy is the result of incest
- “the woman or girl is severely subnormal”
98% of abortions in New Zealand are approved on the mental health ground.
After 20 weeks abortion is only available to prevent serious, permanent harm to the mental or physical health of the pregnant person.
The laws around abortion have not changed materially since 1977. As a result, the law does not take early medical abortions into account. Patients must take both the medical abortion drugs in an institution licenced to provide abortions. They can go home after taking each set of pills.
What are the different abortion services available?
With the approval of two certifying consultants, you can access surgical and medical abortions up to 20 weeks, or later if you meet the criteria. Early medical abortion is available up to the end of the ninth week.
Availability of services varies between districts.
Who can perform abortions in New Zealand?
Abortions must be performed by doctors at licenced institutions.
You must have a referral from a doctor to access the abortion system. Your GP, Family Planning, or a sexual health clinic can refer you. Your doctor can refuse to refer you on grounds of ‘conscientious objection’. If they do, you can seek referral from another doctor, or from Family Planning or a sexual health clinic.
Where can I go for abortion services?
You must have a referral from a doctor to access the abortion system.
Abortions must be performed at licenced institutions, which are usually attached to public hospitals. There is also one private not-for-proﬁt abortion clinic in Auckland.
Services vary widely between districts. Most regional centres offer surgical abortions up to 14 weeks, and medical abortions up to 9 weeks. Main centres offer abortions up to 18 or 20 weeks, and beyond 20 weeks if you meet the criteria. Smaller districts can refer patients to main centres for abortions at later gestations.
What is the cost of an abortion?
If you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, or if you have a two-year visa, abortions are covered under the public health service. If you are not eligible for the public health service, private care is available at a cost from $1200 - $2500 NZD.
What are the legal and safe drugs available?
Myfegymiso (Mifepristone / Misoprostol) is the usual means of medical abortion.
Can I buy abortion pills at a pharmacy?
Can I buy abortion pills online?
Accessing abortion outside the public or private health systems is illegal. A pregnant person who accesses medical abortion pills for themselves faces a maximum penalty of a $200 ﬁne. A person who accesses medical abortion pills for someone else faces a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.