Strengthened reporting will improve abortion and sterilisation services
Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced new data and reporting regulations which will help improve abortion and sterilisation services in New Zealand, by painting a clearer picture of the need in our communities.
“The Government is committed to ensuring everyone who needs to access abortion services can, regardless of their situation or where they live,” Ayesha Verrall said.
“Under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, service providers are required to collect and report on their services and the procedures they perform.
“These regulations are one of the ways we can have oversight of, and improve, abortion, abortion-related counselling and sterilisation services.
“Collecting this data helps us identify gaps in the system, and understand more about the barriers people face to accessing these key health services and how we can better meet their needs.
“We’ve now broadened what non-identifiable patient information is gathered. This will still include things such as the person’s ethnicity and age, while also noting data such as the wait time for the service, how it was funded, and whether it was a self-referral.
“These changes follow the abortion law reforms which saw abortion removed from the Crimes Act in 2020, to ensure it is rightly treated as a health issue,” Ayesha Verrall said.
The Director-General of Health must review and report on whether there is timely and equitable access to these services, and on the relative costs to patients accessing them. Abortion and sterilisation providers must provide information to the Ministry of Health within one month of the procedure, using an online notification system.
“Providers must also submit information each year about their services more generally, including what interpreting services they offer, whether their facility provides abortion-related counselling, information around refused abortions, enquiries for abortion for a particular sex, and the number, ethnicity and gender of health professionals in their workforce.
“The updated regulations which came into effect on Friday are part of wider transformation to abortion services, which are an essential part of people having control over their fertility,” Ayesha Verrall said.
The Abortion Legislation Act 2020, which amended provisions in the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, introduced changes to decriminalise abortion, and better align the provision of abortion services with other health services.
It also introduced information collection, review and reporting obligations for the Director-General of Health on contraception, sterilisation, abortion, abortion-related information and advice, and abortion-related counselling services.