Monday, 21 June 2010

2009's Aotearoa NZ abortion stats out

And you can see them here.

Here's the summary Statistics NZ:
The number of abortions performed in New Zealand decreased in the year ended December 2009, Statistics New Zealand said today. A total of 17,550 induced abortions were performed in New Zealand in the December 2009 year, 390 (2 percent) less than in 2008 (17,940).

The general abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) decreased from 19.7 per 1,000 in 2008 to 19.2 in 2009. In 1999, the general abortion rate was 18.0 per 1,000.

Women aged 20–24 years had more abortions than any other age group. Their abortion rate was 36 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 years in 2009.

The median age of women having an abortion was 24 years in 2009.
ALRANZ reckons this highlights, again, the need for increasing access to abortion at the earliest possible stages, as half of all abortions in 2009 were performed during or after the 10th week of gestation. This in turn supports Family Planning's bid to be able to provide early medical abortion via the pill previously known as RU486.

It makes sense to me to have a nationwide organisation with expertise in sexual and reproductive health offering the abortion pill as widely as possible. The earlier a termination is performed the better for the woman involved and the easier for the health system to manage. We have huge holes currently, massive parts of our country where abortions are not available (see Maia's depressing map in this post), and allowing Family Planning to offer the abortion pill would help greatly. If FPA offer access to early medical abortion at all their clinics then that will mean 5 new places in the South Island alone that will have some form of access, in particular on the West Coast. The impact this will make for women's choices around whether or not to continue a pregnancy should not be underestimated.

A key part of being pro-choice is not just acknowledging a woman's right to make the choice, for herself, but also supporting access to abortion in a safe and timely manner. The choice should not be limited by an inability to get a termination.

Hat tip to ALRANZ's email newsletter for the info and the inspiration to blog about it.


Anonymous said...

Shame that the unborn do not have a choice. Nothing to be proud of, in those shameful figures. Pro-choice just means irresonsible and selfish.

Julie said...

So as someone who opposes women's choice in regard to control of their own bodies, you would surely have been happy to have seen the decrease in total number of abortions and the decrease in the abortion rate?

Have a think about the fact that there are likely to be women who have had abortions reading your comment Anon. Would you call them irresonsible [sic] and selfish to their faces? Have you ever been faced with that choice yourself?

You seem to be a sad example of pro-life meaning judgemental and controlling.

Sophia said...

I don't get people who want to ban abortion or severely restrict it and use the 'choice' of a fetus to justify such opinions.

Sexual violence and rape in New Zealand is very prevalent. At the same time, prebious posts on the HM have highlighted, abortion is not widely accessible in New Zealand - particularly in rural and provincial areas. As well as that, abortion also costs, which shuts off the choice for many women who do not have the ability to pay.

If we accept any argument to restrict abortion in New Zealand, or even maintain the status quo - we're making it harder for women who have been raped to access abortions in New Zealand, and we subjecting them to forced pregnancies.

To me, this is a total anathema to basic liberal values

Not only this, we're actually privileging the choice that a rapist makes to rape a women, over the choices that women have over their bodies.

Anon - is that something we really want to support?

Margaret said...

Terrible stats. Its a disgrace to live in a country which murders close on 18000 innocent children every year. Shame on us.

Boganette said...

Comprehension fail Margaret. There were 17,550 induced abortions in NZ. So don't worry you don't live in a country where 18,000 children were murdered. We're talking about abortion here not the murders of children.

Julie said...

So Margaret you'd rather have nearly 18,000 forced pregnancies a year?

(Thanks Sophia and Boganette for your comments in support of women's choice)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous, Hi Margaret! I had an abortion in 2009, so I am one of these statistics. First of all, I am not irresponsible: the condom broke and the morning after pill failed. As for selfish, I have never met someone with children who was selfless: people have children because they want them (planned or unplanned, just because abortion is an option doesn’t mean you have to have one) for whatever reason – whether they want someone who will love them unconditionally, a legacy so that they feel they’re lives meant something, because they have a longing for a child that they can’t explain, or even because they think it will make their relationship better – there is no right or wrong reason to have a child, but you’d be hard pressed to show me one that’s not selfish. I don’t want children EVER, I cannot think of anything worse and my partner at the time didn’t want a child either; and there are no right or wrong reasons for wanting to be childless, and yes that’s selfish too. Every decision we make is.
Do you really believe that as someone who disdains children so strongly should be forced to give birth? My partner was extremely bipolar (if there is such a thing) should he have been forced to be a father? It is likely that a child it had would have been abused by him and hated by me, and I did not want to force that upon a child. What would a child like that become? Probably hateful and abusive itself. Forcing an unwanted child into the world is irresponsible, imagine 17,550 unwanted and unloved children whose parents were forced to have them against their will.
I am glad to see abortion numbers go down; it means that people are having better luck with their birth control than I did, and that they aren’t having to go through the experience that I did. Abortions are very unpleasant, no one is using them as birth control. It is not a simple process to go through, no one can just decide one day to pop into the clinic; if someone is not committed to it they won’t do it. But for those of us who are committed to not having a child, it is far far better than the alternative and we need to have that option.

Sorry so long, but someone had to say it.

Anonymous said...

***Oops - I meant to type a "child WE had" not "a child it had" in that second paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Anon above - you are so brave sharing your story.

A friend of mine had a termination a few years ago and it really hit home to me then just how essential it is that we have these choices. In my opinion forced pregancy is a gross human rights abuse and I cannot understand those who argue otherwise. There is nothing selfish abou having a termination. Women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies. If that doesn't agree with some people's religious beliefs then tough s*#t.

Julie said...

Thank you from me too, Anon at 9.29pm, that was nowhere near too long, and a very valuable comment.

captiver said...

Thanks Anon for your story! If only more women could share theirs, but of course the environment for doing that is so toxic, it's easy to understand why we don't.

Margaret said...

What say we just increase the age of the termination of a life to 2 years seeing as the human being is not viable and cannot live without its mother?

Then we could control the population even further?

(I can read Boganette - 17500 is 'close on' 18000 and I was referring to a trend)

Margaret said...

In Response to anonomyous. I really can understand how personal this topic is and its great you could share your story.

I guess my question to you is why do you not value a life as it is? I mean, whether we want children or not, shouldn't we as a society have a higher value of human life in the womb rather than an unwanted byproduct of sex?

Julie said...

That's funny Margaret, the thing about the 2 year olds. Hilarious. I went back to full time work when my son was 9 months old, yet he is still extant, and indeed in rather excellent health. Funny how not having Mum around 24/7 didn't snuff his little life out.

I'm going to assume that you consider that life begins at conception, as that is the rathole you seem to be heading down. But this is far from being a confirmed and set view that all people share.

How about I don't force you, or anyone else, to have an unwanted abortion and you don't force me, or anyone else, to continue an unwanted pregnancy?

Anonymous said...

Hi again Margaret, anon 9.29 here! I do value life but remember there were three lives involved, my partner and I did not stop having value as soon as a third life entered the picture. Also there are other things that I value (being childless is one of many of those things) and I weighed up everything that I value and made the decision I made. There may be different things that you value, or you may weigh things differently; and probably would have made a different decision if you were in my situation. And that would be the right decision for you. And I made the right decision for me.

Thanks for the forum here, I appreciate it when the debate gets past catchphrases and sound bites!

Jackie Clark said...

I come at this from a couple of points of view. I am not a mother, nor have I ever wanted to be one. Not because I hate children, or any such thing, but because I am from a large family and have never felt the biological imperative to fill my life with more children. I am also a kindergarten teacher, and have been for the last 14 years. I have taught, by my reckoning, probably in the region of 1000 children. So my life is filled with children. I love the way their brains work, I love the learning and teaching process. My whole life is, and has always been, about the kids in my family, the kids I teach, the kids of my friends. And having so many children in your life, year in and year out for all these years means you understand that all children have the right to be born into a family. A family - be it one parent or two, be it traditional or nontraditional - that wil love that child, care for that child, look after that child's emotional and physical health, and keep that child safe. If you have any doubt that you cannot do that for a child, if you are not ready to do that for a child - then you have a choice to make if you find yourself pregnant. You have the right to make that choice, because, yes you are terminating the life of a foetus, and that is a big decision to make. But women must have the ability and resources available to make this hardest of choices. If abortion is illegal or restricted, what you get is people still having abortions but in unsafe and uninformed circumstances. So Margaret, you may not agree with abortion. That is your right. But as a teacher, and as a person who loves children and everything they stand for, I would put it to you that there is nothing selfish about ensuring that there be no more unloved, unsafe children in this country than there already are. Abortion is not shameful, child abuse is.

A Nonny Moose said...

Margaret and Original Anon: I'm guessing you'll be willing then, if you revoke a woman's right to choice, to financially and emotionally support those 18 000 until adulthood?

Ah no, that's right - until pre-vaginal exit they're Potential. Post pop, you'll label them the criminals, dole bludgers and wasters of our society. My bad.

Nikki Elisabeth said...

Yes to access to earlier terminations and yes to access to better sexuality education (not just education about sex and its consequences, I'm talking full relationship education and self esteem building).

We all want to see the termination rate go down.

I've had two unplanned pregnancies, first one I continued and didn't regret that for a second, but it made it clear to me that the choice to continue with a pregnancy means a long hard slog raising a person - something you have to commit to for the rest of your life. And a choice that I want to put my best into so that the world benefits from my decision to have a child.

The second unplanned pregnancy I realised I couldn't fulfill the above. If I'd continued with the pregnancy, not only would I not be able to put my best into raising that person, it would compromise my ability to raise that first decent person (my daughter). It would have also affected my own ability to be a decent person and also the ability of my then-partner to be a decent person. I'd like to think that 3 neat people are better than 4 crap ones.

I don't regret that decision for a second - and I am forever thankful that I was able to make that choice after contraception failed me. I'd like to see that choice being able to be made earlier on as I knew the moment that I saw the positive pregnancy test that I wouldn't continue with the pregnancy. The next few weeks waiting were the worst few weeks of my life. It was insulting that it seemed like the health system was trying to make me question my decision and also depressing that our services are so stretched that they have to make a woman wait for so long for the procedure.

The termination process isn't pleasant and I'd give anything for a woman to not have to go through the process - but that does not include removing her choice to continue or not with a pregnancy.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Sophia, much as I support a woman's right to choose, trotting out rape statistics (without actually having them BTW) is a pretty weak argument.

A high rate of sexual violence isn't what justifies a woman's right to choose.

Anonymous said...

My first unplanned pregnancy was to a drug addicted alcoholic who suffered from depression. I wasn't in the best mental state at the time. I decided to keep my child because I needed something to live for. It was a selfish move and I knew that I would not be bringing my child into a healthy environment. My child's father committed suicide and I am at the moment in a much healthier relationship. Yet I still struggle. A lot. I am a good parent but it takes every ounce of effort for me to be so. So when I got pregnant earlier this year I knew that I could not keep it, not for me, or my partner, but because I owe so much to my living breathing thinking child that I knew I could not add something into our family that could possibly make it fall apart.

I had to get rid of that potential for a life for the sake of a child that was already living.

It is out of fear of the pro-life movement that I am anonymous. Shame on you for making our already difficult decisions all the more traumatic.

A Nonny Moose said...

Humble: You do realize there are many varieties of sexual violence other than rape that can result in an unwanted pregnancy? The partner that sabotages contraception to force pregnancy as a means of control; incest; acquaintence/date/partner rape (as opposed to stranger rape).

There are also abortions neccessary for the health of the mother or because the foetus isn't viable.

Margaret's words were "unwanted byproduct of sex"; the insinuation being "you sluts should keep your legs closed". As always, the judgments surrounding sex come from those who understand or embrace it little.

If you were so intent on keeping abortion stats lower, then teach your kids about sex, sexuality and contraception in a heathy way - abstinence only and hush ups and blushes don't cut it. And that INCLUDES the boys, because it takes two to have sex.

And Anon at 9.10 - there's a term for you to, "woman hater".

Sophia said...

Hi Humble,

I think you missed my point.

I certainly don't think that the high rates of sexual violence in NZ are the only reason why we should have access to abortion - other commenters on this blog have made other good reasons why we should.

My point is that if you do restrict abortion in NZ, you do run into an issue of women who have been raped (and other forms of sexual abuse as Nonny Moose pointed out) who will be subject to a forced pregnancy that they had no choice in the matter of. By elevating the right of a fetus higher above the right of a women to her own bodily autonomy than as a society, we are valuing the choice of a women to be pregnant less than the choice of a rapist to rape.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that women, for a variety of reasons make a decision not carry through with a pregnancy and that the state shouldn't make a moral judgement on this decision.

Trouble said...

It's all very well having free speech and all, but bugger having a feminist blog as a handy platform for people to shout anti-choice slogans at an audience likely to be particularly hurt by them. They can wave their placards outside a clinic if they want, I reckon delete them from here. There are few enough places where women get to tell the stories like that of Anonymous at 9:29 without getting shamed for it. I'd like to thank her for sharing, and I'm grateful to our feminist foremothers for doing their best to make it possible for her to make the right decision for her. Having a child is a huge responsibility, and not one that should be taken on reluctantly.

Anonymous said...

Can the anti-choice people on here REALLY say that all their children are wanted?

Because someone who is pro-choice can say that. They looked at all their options and they KNOW the children they have are 100% wanted. And not just kept so they can martyr themselves.

There's nothing more selfless than making sure your child is actually wanted. There's nothing more selfish than bringing a child into the world that you cannot care for properly.

pro-choice and proud said...

Anon at 9.10 - Want to talk about titles buddy? I betting you use the term "pro-life" when you're anything but. You don't value the lives of women at all. They die for all you care as long as the foetus is born. And once it's born then you don't really care.

You're not going to volunteer to look after that child. You're not going to volunteer to support that mother.

Don't bring your hate for women to a blog full of feminists.

Julie said...

I've deleted an unacceptable comment made on this thread. Apologies I was not able to get to it sooner as I have been away from the computer all day today until now.

Thank you to all those brave women who have shared their stories. I am heartened that you feel this is a space where you can do that, even anonymously, as so often it is the voices of those who have had abortions that are silenced by the nastiness of some on the "pro-life" side of the argument.

The bottom line for me is that we need to respect the right and power of women to control their own bodies. This extends to unequivocally and without restriction giving individual women the right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. They are the people best placed to make the best decision about whether or not to have a child; they know all their own circumstances, which you can never fully know from outside. And sometimes individual women will make choices about their bodies, about their fertility, about their reproductive plans, that others disagree with or wouldn't make in the same circumstances. That's ok; if we just respect that the woman concerned is the person best placed to make a decision that affects her first and foremost then that helps us get by without angst and public judgeyness.