Why the latest NZ abortion statistics show some very encouraging trends
By Brendan Malone
Last week the annual New Zealand abortion statistics for 2015 were released.
While the total number of abortions performed increased - up by eighteen abortions from the 2014 total - the general abortion rate (the number of abortions per females aged 18 to 44) has decreased yet again.
The latest total of 13,155 human lives lost, and almost as many mothers exposed to the risks of abortion is nothing to celebrate, but there are certainly some very encouraging trends which paint a positive picture of a growing culture of respect for human life in New Zealand.
For example, the latest figures show that NZ abortions are now at a twenty year low, and that this downward trend has been happening for the last twelve years - to the point where there were 5356 LESS abortions last year than there were in this country in 2003.
Then there are the youth abortion rates.
The 15 - 19 year old age bracket has decreased their number of abortions by more than 50% since 2003, and 20 - 24 year old females have decreased by just under 50% since 2003.
Just in case you're wondering, no, this isn't merely a case of a decreasing female population in NZ.
The number of pregnancies ending in abortion in New Zealand has decreased from 247 abortions per 1000 pregnancies in 2003, to 177 abortions per 1000 pregnancies last year. What this means is that more NZ women are now choosing to carry their babies to term.
This isn't a one off statistical spike either, that downward trend began in 2004, and hasn't stopped decreasing since.
Sadly, there are some negative trends recorded as well - like the fact that 67 New Zealand women experienced physical complications as a result of abortion last year, many of them serious (like haemorrhaging 500ml or more of blood.) These figures surely put paid to the often repeated myth that abortion is no more risky for women than having a tooth pulled.
All in all, the latest abortion statistics clearly seem to be pointing to the fact that a quiet grassroots revolution in favour of respect for human life is taking place in this country.
Not only is this a welcome trend, but it is also one that is consistent with what is being seen repeatedly around the rest of the world.
So why is happening?
There are almost certainly a combination of factors.
New Zealand now has a good number of very well run crisis pregnancy care organisations operating up and down the country. These centres provide caring and confidential support to women in need, with no strings and no judgments. And even though they are run on the smell of an oily rag, the level of care and professionalism they offer is second to none (in fact, many would argue that they consistently go well above and beyond when caring for women and their babies.)
Then there is also the growing scientific awareness of the reality of life in the womb.
The ultrasound is still only a very recent invention, however women and couples are now routinely supplied with 4D images of their unborn children. These images are also very rarely kept private - thanks to the advent of social media they are shared far and wide, meaning that even people who have never even imagined being parents are now routinely exposed to the reality of human life in the womb.
Lastly, one cannot underestimate the impact of the way in which younger generations of Kiwis now view the world firmly through the prism of human rights and an overriding concern for the vulnerable.
In fact, while aging pro-choice activists have been publicly bemoaning the lack of young people interested in joining their groups, the pro-life cause has experienced a massive and renewed interest from the younger demographics all over the world.
Some of the most important and effective pro-life efforts being carried out around the globe today either originated with young people, or are being driven with even greater efficacy by their committed dedication and service.
Which is precisely why Focus on the Family is committed to running the ACTIV8 Pro-Life Training Internship for 18 to 35 year olds every year in this country.
This event has been running for six years this July, and during that time, approximately 90 young adults have been intensively trained in pro-life ethics and philosophy, crisis pregnancy and post abortion care, practical media skills, and much more.
The fruit of this ministry effort has been truly amazing, with these young adults now actively leading the charge in promoting a renewed culture of life in this country (as well as abroad), and even spawning a second annual pro-life internship in Australia every January now too.
Our next dream here at Focus on the Family is to see New Zealand churches become nationally renowned as the best and most caring places to come if you find yourself facing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy.
This might seem like a big ask, but with ninety well trained young adults and counting, it is starting to look a lot more doable with each passing year!