Abortion procedures

Timeframes

I am less than 9 weeks pregnant

You can have the abortion pill or a minor surgical procedure (usually awake with local anaesthetic)

I am between 9 and less than 15 weeks pregnant

You can have an abortion with a minor surgical procedure (usually awake with local anaesthetic)

I am between 5 and 20 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 weeks pregnant or more

All abortions are performed by induction of labour

There are two main methods of abortion: medical abortion involves taking pills to end the pregnancy, and surgical abortion involves a minor operation.

Cost of abortion

Abortion care is free for most New Zealand residents. If you are not a citizen or permanent resident your care may still be free, check out this guide to free healthcare eligibility. If your care is not funded, talk to your local provider who can tell you how much your abortion care will cost. An indication of costs is provided on the page of each individual service.

If you are not eligible for funded healthcare, but are pregnant as a result of rape, ACC is obliged to pay for your treatment.

Medical abortion

Medical abortion uses pills rather than surgery. An early medical abortion (up to nine weeks) is more like a natural miscarriage. A later medical abortion is more like inducing a labour.

Surgical abortion

Surgical abortion by vacuum aspiration is a minor procedure taking a few minutes, usually performed with you awake. General anaesthetic is routine in some clinics and according to need in others. 

Availability of first trimester abortion services

Most areas of New Zealand offer a local abortion service.

The method of abortion varies from region to region. Generally you will have to a resident of an area to access the services offered there.

In a few areas of the country you will need to travel to get your abortion care. If this is the case your local District Health Board will organise the referral and assist with transport costs. Areas where this happens are South Canterbury and the West Coast - see information given in Where to go.

Risks of abortion

Abortion is very safe, but all methods carry some risk. The risk is dependent on the stage of pregnancy at which the abortion is carried out as well as the procedure used.

The pre-existing health of the woman also impacts upon the risk. It's important that you give full information about your past and present health when deciding on the procedure.