Abortion Services in New Zealand

Abortion providers in New Zealand

Medical practitioners

In New Zealand, abortions are performed either by specialist obstetricians and gynaecologists, or by general practitioners who have undergone extra training in performing abortions.


Nurses/midwives play a large role in looking after patients throughout the process of an abortion. In New Zealand, there are no specialist nurses who perform surgical abortions. However, the management of medical abortions, both in early pregnancy and second trimester, is almost entirely done by nurses or midwives.

Midwives are trained in the management of all aspects of pregnancy care, and bring these skills to the management of pregnancy terminations.

Both nurses and midwives who work in this field are usually provided with additional training by the institutions that employ them.


The New Zealand law requires that counselling is offered and available to all women requesting an abortion. In some hospitals/clinics, nurses are given extra training and provide this service. In many units, however, counsellors and social workers, trained in the techniques of abortion counselling are available.

Counsellors provide information for women about the processes, and aspects such as fetal development and contraception. They may provide pre-decision counselling, which focuses on their options outside of abortion as well as assist with clarification of their feelings should they decide to terminate.


Abortion providers in New Zealand collaborate to ensure good quality care across the country. There have been national conferences of abortion providers held regularly over the last 10 years, at which providers exchange information. Papers on aspects of abortion care have been presented at these conferences, as well as at conferences on sexual health, general practice and College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The practice of abortion providers working in more than one unit, has also been helpful for the exchange of information.

The responsibility for auditing the work done by providers lies partly with the units that employ them and partly through bodies such as the Abortion Supervisory Committee and the Ministry of Health. The providers themselves are licensed professionals that are registered with organisations such as the Medical Council, the Nursing Council and the Midwifery Council, etc. These professionals are expected to, as part of their re-certification procedures, undertake continuing medical education, and peer review of their professional activities.

Last Updated: 26 November 2005