Abortion Services in New Zealand

CRIMES ACT 1961

PART 8 - CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON Abortion

182. Killing unborn child-

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who causes the death of any child that has not become a human being in such a manner that he would have been guilty of murder if the child had become a human being.

(2) No one is guilty of any crime who before or during the birth of any child causes its death by means employed in good faith for the preservation of the life of the mother.

182A. Miscarriage defined-

For the purposes of sections 183 to 187 of this Act the term "miscarriage" means-

(a) The destruction or death of an embryo or fetus after implantation; or

(b) The premature expulsion or removal of an embryo or fetus after implantation, otherwise than for the purpose of inducing the birth of a fetus believed to be viable or removing a fetus that has died.

183. Procuring abortion by any means-

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman or girl, whether she is pregnant or not;

(a) Unlawfully administers to or causes to be taken by her any poison or any drug or any noxious thing; or

(b) Unlawfully uses on her any instrument; or

(c) Unlawfully uses on her any means other than any means referred to in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of this subsection.

(2) The woman or girl shall not be charged as a party to an offence against this section.

186. Supplying means of procuring abortion-

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who unlawfully supplies or procures any poison or any drug or any noxious thing, or any instrument or other thing, whether of a like nature or not, believing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure miscarriage.

187. Effectiveness of means used immaterial-

The provisions of section 183 to 186 of this Act shall apply whether or not the poison, drug, thing, instrument, or means administered, taken, used, supplied, or procured was in fact capable of procuring miscarriage.

187A. Meaning of "unlawfully"-

(1) For the purposes of sections 183 and 186 of this Act, any act specified in either of those sections is done unlawfully unless, in the case of a pregnancy of not more than 20 weeks' gestation, the person doing the act believes-

(a) That the continuance of the pregnancy would result in serious danger (not being danger normally attendant upon childbirth) to the life, or to the physical or mental health, of the woman or girl; or

(aa) That there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would be so physically or mentally abnormal as to be seriously handicapped; or

(b) That the pregnancy is the result of sexual intercourse between-

(i) A parent and child; or

(ii) A brother and sister, whether of the whole blood or of the half blood; or

(iii) A grandparent and grandchild; or

(c) That the pregnancy is the result of sexual intercourse that constitutes an offence against section 131(1) of this Act; or

(d) That the woman or girl is severely subnormal within the meaning of section 138(2) of this Act.

(2) The following matters, while not in themselves grounds for any act specified in section 183 or section 186 of this Act, may be taken into account in determining for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) of this section, whether the continuance of the pregnancy would result in serious danger to her life or to her physical or mental health:

(a) The age of the woman or girl concerned is near the beginning or the end of the usual child-bearing years:

(b) The fact (where such is the case) that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the pregnancy is the result of sexual violation.

(3) For the purposes of sections 183 and 186 of this Act, any act specified in either of those sections is done unlawfully unless, in the case of a pregnancy of more than 20 weeks' gestation, the person doing the act believes that the miscarriage is necessary to save the life of the woman or girl or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health.

(4) Where a . . . medical practitioner, in pursuance of a certificate issued by 2 certifying consultants under section 33 of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, does any act specified in section 183 or section 186 of this Act, the doing of that act shall not be unlawful for the purposes of the section applicable unless it is proved that, at the time when he did that act, he did not believe it to be lawful in terms of subsection (1) or subsection (3) of this section, as the case may require.

Subsection (4) was amended, as from 18 September 2004, by s 175(1) Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (2003 No 48) by omitting the word "registered". See ss 178 to 227 of that Act as to the transitional provisions.

Last Updated: 2 May 2005