You can have the abortion pill or a minor surgical procedure (usually awake)
What to do
I am less than 9 weeks pregnant
I am between 9 and 14 weeks pregnant
You can have an abortion with a minor surgical procedure (usually awake)
I am between 14 and 19 weeks pregnant
You can have a surgical abortion under general anaesthesia (asleep)
I am more than 14 weeks and I have a fetal abnormality
You can have an early induction of labour
I am 20 to 24 weeks pregnant
You may be able to travel to Australia for a surgical abortion (strict criteria apply)
Early confirmation of a pregnancy is very important. Early abortion is safer and there are more choices available with pregnancies in the early stages.
Home pregnancy tests
- Home pregnancy tests (also known as pregnancy diagnostic kits) can be bought from any pharmacy or supermarket.
- These tests provide an accurate diagnosis, providing you follow the instructions carefully. Read all the steps right the way through before you start.
- Testing kits can be quite expensive, so it may be cheaper to visit a doctor or Family Planning clinic.
- Positive pregnancy tests should be quickly followed up by a visit to a doctor, especially if abortion is being considered..
Doctor or Family Planning Clinic
- Family Planning has health clinics throughout New Zealand. Their services are free for New Zealand residents under 22 years.
- Maternity care (any healthcare to do with pregnancy and newborns) is free at most doctors for all New Zealand residents and other eligible people. Refer to the Ministry of Health for eligibility.
- A positive pregnancy test and following consultations are free. A consultation with a negative test might not be free.
- Midwives are also able to perform pregnancy tests, but most clinics do not accept referrals from midwives.
If you're feeling distressed, upset or unhappy about being pregnant and want to consider an abortion, discuss this with a health care provider as early as possible.
- An early consultation with a doctor is a good idea to ensure the best care for every pregnancy.If the pregnancy is unwanted, or there are other reasons why you are considering termination of pregnancy, then it is even more important to make an appointment as soon as possible.
- You don't have to tell the receptionist why you need the appointment.
- There is no reason at this early stage to make a final decision about termination. All abortion providers have a legal obligation to provide counselling, and a referral for early counselling may help you in making a decision.
What the doctor will do
- A doctor will have to diagnose the pregnancy or confirm the test done at home.
- They will have to accurately date the pregnancy by examination and/or scan and exclude complications such as a tubal or ectopic pregnancy.
- Other tests needed are antenatal blood tests and infection screening, the same as for routine maternity care.
- If a doctor refuses to refer you to an abortion provider because they don't "believe" in abortion or have a "conscientious objection", then they have a legal obligation to refer you to another doctor who will. If they are uncomfortable with making a referral, ask to see another doctor who will.
- Doctors should know the referral requirements for the abortion service in their district, and be able to offer information about the procedures they provide.
Later in pregnancy
- Termination may become an issue later in the pregnancy, because of changes in your social situation, or complications of the pregnancy.
- Many women choose to have some antenatal screening tests done and these tests may identify problems with the fetus/baby which may make abortion an option to consider.
New Zealand has laws about abortion which mean a specific process must be followed, called "certification".
- To obtain an abortion a pregnant person must have certificates from two doctors who are certifying consultants.
- Your referring doctor and abortion provider will ensure that you see the certifying consultants prior to having an abortion
Abortions can only be performed in a licensed clinic or hospital. Not all DHB districts have clinics which are fully licensed.
For details of how this process works in your district, refer to the map or list of regional services.
- Some areas of New Zealand don't have adequate abortion services. You may have to travel to another region where an abortion service is available.
- District Health Boards (DHBs) have a legal obligation to provide adequate health care for women. Most DHBs will assist financially if an eligible pregnant person needs to be seen outside of their DHB for an abortion.
- Once a referral has been made, the doctor may call the clinic for an appointment time or may ask that you call and arrange the appointment yourself.
- The clinic appointment should be made as soon as possible, so calling right away is advisable as there may be unavoidable delays at the clinic itself.
- There is a legal requirement to offer unbiased counselling. Depending on the clinic, this may be offered routinely or on request by you or your referring doctor.
- Counselling can be very useful for helping you clarify issues or questions about the abortion procedure. It can also be useful for your partner or family, if they are involved in the process.
- Early counselling can assist you to look at all options, including guardianship, adoption and single parenting.
A doctor in the hospital or clinic will medically assess and advise you about your suitability for abortion. This could involve:
- Taking a full history of this pregnancy, previous pregnancies and previous medical and surgical history.
- Looking carefully at the information already provided by you and and your referring doctor.
- Checking results of blood tests, swabs and smears, and pregnancy ultrasound if this has been performed.
- Performing a vaginal examination if this has not been done, or if indicated to do this again.
- Assessing your emotional health and discussing the background to your request for an abortion.
- Arranging further medical tests if needed.
- Discussing what method of abortion is appropriate and/or available.
- Completing the certification process, ensuring that you fully meet the legal criteria for termination in New Zealand, or checking certificates already provided.
- Advising you about contraceptive choices and prescribing appropriately.
Performing the abortion
- Each clinic will have its own operating procedure. You shouldn't hesitate to contact the clinic beforehand to ask for information if you want it.
- In some clinics the operation may be provided on the day of counselling. However, in others it may be a two stage process, with counselling one day and the termination procedure at a later date.
- For information about types of procedure offered in New Zealand see abortion procedures.
The physical effects of an abortion will vary depending on the method used and your own health. For more information refer to the different types of procedure.
The emotions of going through an abortion are also very variable from person to person. All providers offer free counselling after the abortion if requested.