ABORTION LAW REFORM ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND
19 June 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As Abortion Decline Continues, Let’s Boost Support for Contraception
Better contraception appears to be playing a role in the continued decline in abortions, but much more can be done to make the newer contraceptives accessible and affordable, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand, Dr. Morgan Healey, said today.
Abortion figures for 2012 released today by Statistics NZ show there were 14,745 abortions in New Zealand, down 1,118 on 2011 and cementing a now 5-year downward trend.
“Anecdotal evidence about rising use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) together with today’s statistics suggest these new methods may be helping to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion,” Dr. Healey said.
“We’d like to see more research that could confirm these links, but in the meantime ALRANZ renews its call for the government to ensure contraception is affordable and accessible for those who want it,” she said.
Though sales data is commercially sensitive, Bayer NZ did confirm to ALRANZ this week that use of its LARCs – including Mirena and Jadelle – has increased considerably over the last few years, Dr. Healey said.
But while Jadelle has been funded since 2010, Mirena will cost a woman around $320 for contraceptive use. (It is only funded for menstrual bleeding problems.)
ALRANZ National Secretary Annabel Henderson Morrell said spending money on funding contraception and improving contraceptive access was both fiscally smart and socially responsible.
“Statistics show around 50 percent of women having abortions in New Zealand were not using any form of contraception when they got pregnant, something the Abortion Supervisory Committee has said it’s concerned about,” she said. “Making contraception more freely available is the obvious first step in addressing that concern.”
We’ve looked at what’s out there and how much it costs, Ms. Henderson Morrell said (see Contraception Fact Sheet below), and our research clearly shows much more can be done to improve information about and access to contraception.
Other highlights from today’s abortion figures include:
• A continued drop in the abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women) to 16.1, its lowest since 1995.
• A continued downward trend in abortions among the very young (51 abortions for 11-14 year olds, down from 68 the previous year and continuing a downward trend).
• 55 percent of abortions were performed at 9 weeks of pregnancy or less. (This figure is disappointing.)
• Most abortions – 62.1 percent – were a woman’s first.
For more information about ALRANZ visit www.alranz.org
ALRANZ Phone: 021-082-76474
CONTRACEPTION IN NEW ZEALAND: HOW ACCESSIBLE IS IT?
Contraception should be freely available to all who want it, but it can be expensive and inaccessible. Here’s a brief summary of contraception cost and availability in New Zealand. (This information is not a substitute for advice from a medical professional and may vary by DHB, pharmacy and area. Note that Family Planning visits are free for those under 22, and are $5 for those with a Community Services Card, and most DHBs also provide free youth services.)
Oral Contraceptive Pill
There are a variety of oral contraceptive pills available. One pill must be taken each day. Cost: Some are funded; some are not. A six-monthly doctor or clinic visit plus standard prescription charge are required for those that are funded; unfunded oral contraception can cost more than $100 for a six-month supply.
Nuva Ring: A plastic hormone-bearing ring that must be inserted into the vagina once a month. Cost: Approximately $75 for 3-month supply, plus doctor visits for prescriptions.
Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs)
• Jadelle: This involves inserting two small, soft, plastic rods containing the hormone progestogen under the skin of the upper arm. It lasts 5 years and can be removed at any time. Cost: Free since 2010, but this doesn’t include the cost of a visit to doctor or clinic for a prescription and then for insertion and removal.
• Implanon: This is a single rod implant that lasts for 3 years. Cost: This is not subsidised and costs around $270, plus visits to doctor or clinic.
Intra uterine devices (or intra-uterine systems) are small devices that fit inside the womb; they can be removed if a person wants to become pregnant. There are several types available in New Zealand, with variable funding.
• Mirena: This IUD contains a slow-release hormone and lasts for around 5 years. Cost: This is funded for menstrual bleeding problems, not for contraceptive use, for which it costs around $320, plus the visit to a doctor or clinic. (Some DHBs do offer subsidies.)
• Copper IUDs: Multiload Cu375 standard and short size, CuT380A are available. They are effective for at least 5 years, and the contraceptive effect is reversed on removal. Cost: Funding varies, with Multiload fully funded. All require a visit to the doctor or a clinic for insertion and removal, though some nurses are trained to insert IUDs.
• Depo Provera: This is a three-monthly hormonal injection. A return to fertility can be delayed, but will occur. Cost: Depo Provera has been available in New Zealand since 1968, and is free, not counting the three-monthly doctor or clinic visit.
• Emergency Contraception: This involves taking one pill, Postinor (also known as Levonelle); or two pills, Next Choice, and can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent conception. (It does not cause an abortion.) Cost: A doctor visit plus standard prescription charge. It is also available over the counter without a prescription, but cost at the pharmacy ranges from $40 to $80; it is not stocked on the pharmacy shelves and only a specially trained pharmacist can dispense this. Some DHBs have provided funding.
• Male Condoms: These are widely available and have the added advantage of protecting against sexually transmitted infections. Cost: Varies, but around $20 for a pack of 12 from a retail outlet; condoms can also be prescribed by a doctor.
• Female Condoms: Femidom or the female condom may be available through Family Planning, but can also be bought on the Internet at 3 for around $12.
• Diaphragm: A soft rubber or silicone dome that must be placed in the vagina before intercourse, and used with a spermicide. Cost: Funded with a prescription fee. Must be fitted by a trained nurse or doctor. Spermicide is no longer stocked by NZ pharmacies, although it can be bought on the Internet.
More information about contraception and sexual health is here:
Ministry of Health
District Health Board websites