Abortion Services in New Zealand

The Abortion Supervisory Committee

The Abortion Supervisory Committee is appointed by Parliament, under the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977.

It has the responsibility of keeping under review all the provisions of the abortion law in New Zealand, and the operation and effect of those provisions in practice. This includes licensing institutions for the performance of abortions and appointment of certifying consultants to consider cases.

The Committee consists of three members, two of whom are to be registered medical practitioners. The current members are Dame Professor Linda Holloway DCNZM (Chair) of Dunedin, Rev. Patricia Allan of Christchurch both serving a second term of three years and newly appointed Dr Tangimoana Habib of Hamilton. All three appointments were confirmed on 12 April 2011.

The Committee published Guidelines for the Use of Mifepristone for Medical Abortion in New Zealand (PDF 332 KB) in August 2004.

The Committee's annual report to Parliament is available from the Tribunals Division of the Ministry of Justice Private Bag 32001, Wellington 6146. Telephone: (04) 462 6660.

It is also available online at the website of Parliament (Papers presented). This report contains a summary of the Committee's activities during the year, together with statistical information relating to the number of abortions performed in the previous calendar year.

For a copy of the report of 2010 click here.

For a copy of the report of 2011 click here

For a copy of the supplementary report (statistics) of 2011 click here

For a copy of the report of 2012 click here

For a copy of the report of 2013 click here

These statistics are also published by Statistics New Zealand, and are available online.

Functions and powers of the Abortion Supervisory Committee

These are defined in Section 14 of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 as follows:

1. The Supervisory Committee shall have the following functions:

  1. To keep under review all the provisions of the abortion law, and the operation and effect of those provisions in practice:
  2. To receive, consider, grant, and refuse applications for licences or for the renewal of licences under this Act, and to revoke any such licence:
  3. To prescribe standards in respect of facilities to be provided in licensed institutions for the performance of abortions:
  4. To take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure-
    (i) That licensed institutions maintain adequate facilities for the performance of abortions; and
    (ii) That all staff employed in licensed institutions in connection with the performance of abortions are competent:
  5. To take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure that sufficient and adequate facilities are available throughout New Zealand for counselling women who may seek advice in relation to abortion:
  6. To recommend maximum fees that may be charged by any person in respect of the performance of an abortion in any licensed institution or class of licensed institutions, and maximum fees that may be charged by any licensed institution or class of licensed institutions for the performance of any services or the provision of any facilities in relation to any abortion:
  7. To obtain, monitor, analyse, collate, and disseminate information relating to the performance of abortions in New Zealand:
  8. To keep under review the procedure, prescribed by sections 32 and 33 of this Act, whereby it is to be determined in any case whether the performance of an abortion would be justified:
  9. To take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure that the administration of the abortion law is consistent throughout New Zealand, and to ensure the effective operation of this Act and the procedures thereunder:
  10. From time to time to report to and advise the Minister of Health and any district health board established by or under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 on the establishment of clinics and centres, and the provision of related facilities and services, in respect of contraception and sterilisation:
  11. To report annually to Parliament on the operation of the abortion law.
2. The Supervisory Committee shall have all such reasonable powers, rights, and authorities as may be necessary to enable it to carry out its functions.

Last Updated: 21 November 2014