Story: Abortion

Department of Health poster about abortion

Department of Health poster about abortion

The concern with abortion that had flared up in the 1920s and 1930s, although much reduced, was still present in the 1940s. This poster, produced by the Department of Health in 1947, was one attempt to reduce the rate of abortion.

The rate of 13 abortions per 100 births used in the poster and the article amounted to 5,000 to 6,000 per year in the mid-1940s. The figure was based on work done by the McMillan inquiry in the 1930s. But the times had changed, and the rate was probably significantly lower by 1947. Demographers argue that the higher the birth rate, the lower the abortion rate. During the war the birth rate climbed from its low point during the 1930s, never falling below 22.6 per 1,000 people in the population. By 1947 it was nearly 28 per 1,000, compared with less than 19 per 1,000 10 years earlier.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Eph-B-ABORTION-1947-01

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Abortion - Illegal but possible: 1840 to 1950s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 April 2024)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 8 Nov 2018