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Pregnancy can be planned or unplanned, but when it happens, you’ll need to make an informed decision about what to do. This section outlines your options when you are pregnant.

I’m pregnant, what options do I have now?

If you’re pregnant it is your decision whether to continue with the pregnancy or not.

You can decide to:

It is your decision what to do about the pregnancy. If you feel safe to do so, it may be worthwhile to discuss your options with people you trust (e.g. parents, close friends, partner). If you need support, you can contact a professional for advice.

Can I get an abortion?

If you’re pregnant and you don’t want to be, you can get an abortion. An abortion is the early termination of a pregnancy. You can get an abortion at any age. The pregnant person is the only one who gets to decide whether to have an abortion or not.

If you want to talk to someone about your options, you can give Family Planning a call.

When can I get an abortion?

Abortion is legal in New Zealand. If you are 20 weeks or less pregnant, then a registered health practitioner (e.g. a doctor) can provide abortion services to you. You can contact Family Planning or your GP, and ask to see a doctor or nurse about your pregnancy.

After 20 weeks of pregnancy, a registered health practitioner can only provide abortion services if they believe that abortion is “clinically appropriate” in the circumstances. The health practitioner also needs to consult with at least one other health practitioner. They will consider your physical and mental health, overall wellbeing, and the gestational age of the fetus.

Doctors and other medical professionals have to keep all your information confidential. They can’t tell your parents or anyone else if you ask about or get an abortion. For more information about abortion services, you can contact Family Planning.

Can I give my baby up for adoption?

Another option if you’re pregnant but don’t want to keep the baby is to offer the baby up for adoption. You could do this formally or informally. Only the baby’s mother can decide whether to give the baby up for adoption or not. No one else can make you, although sometimes MCOT will intervene if they think you or your baby is at risk.

You can only agree to offer your baby up for adoption after you have had adoption fully explained to you, and after the baby is 10 days old.

What is the difference between formal and informal adoptions?

When you keep being the legal parent of the child, but another family member or friend looks after them, this is an informal adoption. This is ‘whangai’ in Maori culture. Whangai is common within extended whanau.

In a formal adoption, you give all your rights and responsibilities as a parent of the child over to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents become the parents of the child. Ministry for Children – Oranga Tamariki (MCOT) arrange most adoptions.

Can I still contact my child after they have been adopted?

Most adoptions in New Zealand are open adoptions. This means that the child, the birth family and the adoptive family all have regular ongoing contact with each other. The birth and adoptive parents have to work out this contact together.

However, some families may request for a closed adoption meaning no identifying information will be shared with the child unless the child requests for it when they turn 18. These families can choose from an adoption pool where the birth mother is comfortable with a closed adoption. If it is a closed adoption, you will not be able to contact your baby after they have been adopted unless you come to an agreement with the adoptive parents.

I’m pregnant, can I decide to keep my child?

Yes, it’s your choice! However, if you decide to keep your child, you need to make sure you have the support you need to look after both yourself and the baby.

Plunket is the largest provider of free support services for children under five years old in New Zealand. Plunket offers parenting advice and support to all parents. You can chat with one of the nurses at Plunket by calling 0800 933 922 to better understand what support can be provided.

If you have to stop working because you have a baby, you might be able to get a government benefit to help you to support yourself and your family.

I need help during my pregnancy, where can I get help?

Being pregnant can be a lot to deal with. It can help to talk to trusted people, like family members or friends. If you can’t talk to your family or friends, or you need more information, there are agencies that can help:

  • Family Planning is a good place to get confidential advice on sexual and reproductive health. Find your nearest clinic on their website.
  • Youthline can also give you advice and support for all sorts of things you might be dealing with. You can call them on 0800 376 633.

I had sex with a girl, and now she’s pregnant, do I get a say in what happens to our baby?

We suggest you discuss it with the girl if you want a say in what happens to the baby, but it is ultimately the girl’s decision about abortion or keeping the baby. You cannot force her to have the baby or force her to have an abortion.

I have been discriminated because of my pregnancy, what can I do?

In New Zealand, the Human Rights Act 1993 is clear that you cannot be discriminated against because of your sex (gender), and this includes being pregnant. If you are discriminated against because of your pregnancy, this is likely illegal. For example, a business generally cannot choose to not serve you because you’re pregnant.

You may be able to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission. If you would like some advice, contact YouthLaw or your local community law centre.

Can the government take my baby away?

Taking away someone’s child or baby is usually the last option for Ministry for Children – Oranga Tamariki and should only happen if they think it is essential for your baby’s safety and wellbeing. Usually, they will need a warrant to take your baby away unless they are in any immediate danger.

Generally, the baby will be placed with someone in the extended family or if there is no-one, they may be placed in foster care or a residential home and a case will be brought to the Family Court about who should care for the baby.

If your circumstances improve (you have support services and live in a suitable environment), you may apply to the Court to have your children back.

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