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The number of abortions performed has fallen to its lowest rate in almost 20 years,

Statistics New Zealand figures, released today, show a total of 14,745 induced abortions were performed last year, 1118 fewer than in 2011.

There were 193 abortions per 1000 known pregnancies last year, compared with 204 the previous year – the lowest abortion rate since 1995, when there were 191 abortions per 1000 known pregnancies.

The general abortion rate for women aged 15 to 44 decreased from 17.3 per 1000 women in 2011 to 16.1 in 2012.

The highest abortion rate in that age group was among women aged 20-24, the lowest among women aged 40-44.

The number of abortions among very young girls, aged 11-14, continued downwards, to 51 last year compared with 68 in 2011.

Statistics NZ concluded the overall downward trend was due to fewer women having abortions, rather than to changes in the size or age structure of the population.

Abortion Law Reform Association president Morgan Healey said better contraception appeared to play a role in the continued decline in abortions.

“Anecdotal evidence about rising use of long-acting reversible contraception, together with today’s statistics, suggest these new methods may be helping to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion.”

Dr Healey said while more research was needed to confirm the link between long-acting contraceptives and the abortion rate, the Government should ensure contraception was affordable and accessible for those who wanted it.

ProLife NZ welcomed the drop in abortions, which it said was partly due to greater awareness of the development of the child in the womb.

But spokeswoman Mary-Anne Evers said there was still work to be done.

“While we are pleased with this significant drop in the number of abortions, the statistics still represent 14,475 abortions too many,” she said.

Right to Life said it was encouraged that the number of abortions had fallen.

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