Getting an abortion in Aotearoa NZ
Need an abortion?
Free call 0800 DECIDE (0800 332 433) or visit www.decide.org.nz to explore your options. Early medical abortion (up to 10 weeks of pregnancy) can be arranged over the phone from anywhere in Aotearoa New Zealand.
You can find information and advice about abortion in New Zealand at www.DECIDE.org.nz or by calling 0800 DECIDE (0800 332 433).
An abortion or termination of pregnancy can be carried out either by taking medication, or through a surgical procedure. It will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are and/or what services are available in your area. Abortion services are free for anyone eligible for publicly funded healthcare in New Zealand.
Visit abortion.org.nz/abortion-procedures for more information about the timeframes and procedures.
Less than 9 or 10 weeks*
Early medical abortion (EMA) can be arranged over the phone from anywhere in New Zealand and is an option for people up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, where clinically appropriate. Medicines can be couriered directly to you, or to a pharmacy of your choosing. This service is free for any New Zealand citizen or resident. EMA involves taking two medicines/tablets over a period of 24-48 hours, which cause the pregnancy to pass or miscarry. After 21 days, you’ll need to take a pregnancy test (which will be sent to you with the medicines) or have a blood test to confirm the pregnancy has ended.
For more information about the procedure, visit www.decide.org.nz/providers/decides-early-medical-abortion-by-phone-service/
Early surgical abortion is also an option for people at this stage of pregnancy.
Call 0800 DECIDE (0800 332 433) or visit www.decide.org.nz to discuss your options and/or book a phone appointment.
*timings can differ across providers.
More than 9 but less than 14-15 weeks*
Early surgical abortion is an option for people between 9 and 14-15 weeks. This is a minor medical procedure where pregnancy is removed by suction, under either local anaesthetic or sedation. You are able to self-refer to an abortion service (e.g. you can take a pregnancy test at home/you do not need to see a GP/doctor first) and there is no legal age limit for who is able to receive an abortion. The law states that you must be offered counselling following an abortion, but it is your decision whether or not you decide to do this.
Visit abortion.org.nz/where-to-go/provider-locations to find a provider in your area.
*timings can differ across providers.
More than 14 weeks
At this stage of gestation, it will depend on whether the foetus has any abnormalities. If yes, abortion will be performed by early induction of labour. If no, abortion may be performed by later surgical abortion or later medical abortion. All of these procedures would take place at a hospital or specialist clinic.
20 weeks or more
If you are more than 20 weeks pregnant, abortion will be managed by a team of health practitioners. The first health practitioner you see will need to consult with a second health practitioner, and decide whether an abortion is clinically appropriate. Health practitioners will need to consider:
- legal, professional, and ethical standards
- the pregnant person’s physical health, mental health and overall well-being
- the gestational age of the foetus.
Abortions after 20 weeks are performed by induction of labour.
Visit Whetūrangitia https://wheturangitia.services.govt.nz/ for information and support services for whānau experiencing the loss of a baby.
Abortion is legal in New Zealand
In March 2020 abortion was removed from the Crimes Act, meaning it is now legal to have an abortion in New Zealand. Under the new law, up to and including 20 weeks of a pregnancy, a qualified health practitioner can provide an abortion to a pregnant person.
Prior to the new law being passed abortions were carried out in New Zealand through a legal loophole which allowed people to access an abortion if two certifying consultants agreed that one of four conditions had been met: incest, potential physical or mental harm to the pregnant person, fetal defects, mental disability.
Women’s Health Action welcomes the decision to legalise abortion, and presented an oral submission to to the Select Committee in October 2019, which can be viewed here (timestamp: 51.07).
Abortion services in Aotearoa New Zealand
The abortion services available to you will be determined by the District Health Board (DHB) in your area. All DHBs are required to provide access to abortions. However some regions have less access and may require you to travel.
You can find a directory of abortion services in New Zealand here.
You can find information and advice about abortion here.
Choosing a method of abortion
Both medical and surgical abortion techniques are well established procedures, and the method of abortion is dependent on your preference. Your abortion provider may also take into account how far along you are in your pregnancy, your medical history and the services available in your area.
Standard 55 of the Standards of Care for Women Requesting Induced Abortion in New Zealand (2009) states that: ‘All services must actively promote the earliest possible procedure and work towards being able to offer women a choice of methods appropriate for each gestation period.’
Do I have to pay for my abortion?
Abortion is free in New Zealand to any pregnant person eligible for funded healthcare.
Occasionally a doctor will decline to refer women to abortion services on the basis of their personal beliefs. Doctors are permitted by law to decline a referral. However, they are required to inform patients that they can obtain a referral from another provider. Therefore, if your doctor is not supportive of your decision to seek an abortion make sure you see a different health care provider.
Under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer Rights you have the right to be given all the information you require to make an informed choice and the right to be treated with respect. If you are having difficulty obtaining a referral for an abortion in your area, contact your local Family Planning clinic.
DECIDE » has up-to-date information about abortion services, abortion care, and how to find an abortion provider.
Abortion services » information on abortion services in New Zealand.
What to do » helpful information on the process of getting an abortion.
The law around abortion » informational guide written by Family Planning.
10 common myths about abortion, busted » busting some common myths about abortion
Considering an abortion » The Ministry of Health’s abortion page