Survey: ‘moderate to high’ support for legal abortion

The Government is currently reviewing abortion law, which currently in practice offers choice but forces women to claim severe mental distress in order to get a ‘legal’ abortion.

Two thirds of people in a survey have shown support for the right of a woman to choose about abortion in any circumstances.

  • 65% agreed or strongly agreed with a woman’s right to choose, under any circumstance
  • 89.3% support abortion if the woman’s life was in danger

It’s a small minority but I think it’s remarkable that 10% oppose abortion if the woman’s life is in danger.

Stuff: Legalised abortion generally supported by New Zealanders – Auckland University survey

University of Auckland PhD student, Yanshu Huang, analysed the attitudes of 19,973 people who took part in the 2016/17 New Zealand Attitudes and Values study, a national longitudinal study of people aged over 18.

Huang, a research assistant at the university’s Public Policy Institute, said the results suggested “the majority of New Zealanders are supportive of legalised abortion” and were “quite open” to legislative change.

The findings, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday, found “moderate to high” support for legalised abortion regardless of the reason, and “high” support when a woman’s life was under threat.

Changing perceptions and the conversation around abortion law reform prompted Huang to look at not just how many people support legalised abortion, but what factors influenced their support.

The research was completed as part of Huang’s doctoral dissertation at the School of Psychology.

As well as rating their attitudes, participants were asked their age, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, parental status, number of children, relationship and employment status and level of education.

Overall, men expressed “only slightly” less support than women for legalised abortion for any reason, Huang said.

Being older, identifying as religious, being of lower socioeconomic status and having lower levels of education were also linked to being less supportive of abortion, regardless of the reason.

Those who identified as religious expressed less support no matter what the circumstance.

That isn’t surprising – but the numbers suggest that many people who identified as religious support abortion, especially when the woman’s life is in danger.

Minister for Justice Andrew Little welcomed the results of the research.

“This is an important public conversation, and one in which women’s voices, experiences, and safety must be prioritised,” he said.

Little said he looked forward to “progressing both the public and policy discussions” around abortion law reform in the coming months. ​

October 2018: Law Commission abortion law reform briefing received

Justice Minister Andrew Little received today the Law Commission’s briefing on alternative approaches to abortion law.

“Our abortion law is over forty years old, starts with the proposition that an abortion is a crime. In February, I asked the Law Commission for advice on treating abortion as a health matter could look like,” Andrew Little said.

“I acknowledge that the subject of abortion is a personal one for each MP. I will be taking time to talk to my colleagues across all parties about the Law Commission’s briefing before progressing further,” Andrew Little said.

The Law Commission’s briefing examines what abortion law could look like if abortion was treated as a health issue. The paper outlines:

  • three models for when abortion is available
  • changes to:
    • the criminal aspects of abortion law
    • access to abortion services, where abortions are performed, and by whom
    • the oversight of abortion services
  • related issues, such as women’s informed consent, counselling services, and conscientious objection by health practitioners.

The Law Commission’s briefing paper is available at here:

Abortion statistics: Year ended December 2018

There were 13,282 abortions performed in New Zealand in 2018, similar to the year before.

In 2018, 19 percent of known pregnancies (live births, stillbirths, and induced abortions) ended in an induced abortion. This ratio has decreased since its peak in 2003 (25 percent) but has been relatively stable since 2012.

Women in their 20s were most likely to have an abortion in 2018, accounting for 52 percent of all abortions.

Abortions for women under 20 have been decreasing since the peak in 2007. In 2018, 10 percent of abortions were for women under 20, compared with 23 percent 11 years ago.

In comparison, the proportion of abortions for women 30 years and over has been increasing. In 2018, 38 percent of abortions were for women aged 30 and over, compared with 28 percent in 2007.

In 2018, 19 percent of known pregnancies (live births, stillbirths, and induced abortions) ended in an induced abortion. This ratio has decreased since its peak in 2003 (25 percent) but has been relatively stable since 2012.

More women are having abortions earlier. In 2018, 60 percent of abortions were performed before 10 weeks of pregnancy. This compares with 46 percent in 2008, and 38 percent in 1998.

I get the sanctity of life arguments, but with abortions the life of the woman is involved, with a foetus being fully dependent on the woman for the chance of life.

A statistic I haven’t seen is how much the number of abortions affects the eventual number of lives/babies.

Contraception is almost universally accepted as a prudent means of birth control, and also an essential means of limiting population increases.

As far as ‘lives’ are concerned, there seems to be no practical difference between:

– a woman using birth control, then ceasing birth control and having two children, then preventing any further pregnancies through birth control

– a woman having an abortion, subsequently using birth control, then ceasing birth control and having two children, then preventing any further pregnancies through birth control

If birth control or abortion defers the timing of having a family until a parent or parents are better able to care and rear, that must generally be a positive.


Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st June 2019
  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  21st June 2019

    Prevention of a pregnancy is NOT the same as killing an unborn baby,

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st June 2019

      It used to be for Catholics. When does a fertilised cell become an unborn baby?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  21st June 2019

        As soon as it’s fertilised, of course.

        The idea that abortion is illegal in NZ is nonsense. It isn’t. If it was, people would be imprisoned for doing it, and they are not. It’s a technicality.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st June 2019

          No, there is no “of course” about it. Life is much more complex than that.

          • What is it, then ? Something like a tonsil ?

            It doesn’t occur by chance in the body.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd June 2019

              It’s a fertilised egg cell that may or may not implant in the next step towards becoming a baby

              Arguably it occurs by huge chance given the odds of one sperm amongst a billion doing the fertilisation.

  3. People should not have a child unless they are ready willing and able to raise him/her.
    However, assuming all things are good, if a pregnant woman doesn’t want to have a child, then maybe the man should be allowed a choice to take it after it is born?

    • That’ll be the day.

      Men don’t have rights when it comes to unborn children, especially if they are not married to the mother. They can’t insist that it be aborted, but they are liable for its support. They can’t stop an abortion no matter how much they want the child although it’s half theirs, they have responsibilities but few rights, if any.

      It’s a crime if the man does anything to harm the baby and bring on a miscarriage.

      • MaureenW

         /  23rd June 2019

        The male does have some rights – they’re called condoms.
        I would have thought there would be a male pill or equivalent available by now – prophylactics seem a bit archaic as a lone choice of birth control available to men.

        • Men have been caught many times by women claiming to be on the pill when they are not.

          Condoms are not a ‘right’, as such; they are a precaution.

          I have heard that men couldn’t be trusted if they said that they were using a pill or equivalent, but can’t see why. They risk being landed with supporting a child for 18 years; what have they to gain by lying ? Men have to take the woman’s word for it that she is using something.

          I was really angry that Campus Life a few years ago (and probably still) were putting out the lie that condoms don’t work; they are porous. Bloody fools. How irresponsible. They are entitled to state their views on premarital sex, but this is just stupid.

          • They must have imagined that this would stop the young people having sex, but it won’t, it will mean that they’ll take a chance because, if condoms do nothing to prevent pregnancy, why bother to use one ?

        • female people are far more likely to know when they will conceive and already have equal rights to use precautions… funny how it’s the man’s child when it comes to taking responsibility 🙄

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  24th June 2019

            No man could force a woman to support a child that he and another woman had had, but even when DNA proves that the man who’s been told (and believed) that he was the father and put his name on the birth certificate is legally obliged to provide for someone else’s child.

            George Eliot’s partner, later husband, couldn’t divorce his first wife because he let his name go on the birth certificates of her children although he knew they were not his and thereby condoned her adultery.

  4. I always cringe at the notion of polls on such issues. We don’t decide rights and morality on the basis of how many people agree with them. Murdering a child in utero is morally evil, even if it may have 99% public support.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd June 2019

      I once saw a miscarried foetus; the poor little thing was small enough to fit into a ‘kidney dish’ and was about the size of my old Little Tuppence doll (8”) It was like a tiny baby doll, very obviously a tiny human being. I have never forgotten it. It was under the limit for abortions.

  5. But we do decide rights and morality by majority… That’s what representative democracy is. And if our elected representatives decide it is morally right to remove abortion from the crimes act, then we, by extension, have decided.

    • Politicians may be elected because any combination of their policies, but power to decide over life and death of humans is a right I would not bestow on them. I think most of them are duplicitous, corrupt and morally bankrupt scum TBH.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  26th June 2019

        How many do you know personally ? That is incredibly judgemental and sweeping.

        In what way are they corrupt ? Please give details of who these corrupt MPs are, or at least give details of their corrupt practices. This is a very serious allegation, and if you know that there is widespread corruption, you should be doing something to expose it.

        Unless you have evidence, it’s not a good idea to accuse people of this crime.

        If you vote, why do you vote for such people ?

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  26th June 2019

          You seem to be unaware that an international NGO consistently rates Denmark and NZ as the least corrupt countries in the world. Your insulting assumptions seem to be ill-founded.

        • They receive ample “sponsorship” from foreign powers, and the last time I voted it was for Dotcom’s Internet party.
          As for evidence of corruption I’m documenting my experiences with the the corrupt judiciary at with other linked sites of mine (to preclude censorship).
          I’m also busy exposing agenda 21 starting with the green climate BS but I’m trying to persuade people in a constructive way
          As for politicians, I think Vinny Eastwood does very informative videos about them. 😋

  6. Kate Savage

     /  28th June 2019

    I personally do not agree on abortion as a form of birth control -use a rubber, take a pill or get an injection-however no one should have to give birth to a child as a result of violence, rape or incest and a mother’s health must also be important. Early intervention only though.

  1. Survey: ‘moderate to high’ support for legal abortion — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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