Recent Northern Territory Abortion Law Reforms Bring Hope for Other States

The history of abortion law in Australia is lengthy and complicated. Each state’s laws vary, some are more stringent that others, but one state that has returned to the spotlight regarding abortion in recent times is The Northern Territory. A bill was passed through Government on March 21, 2017 after a long debate which now gives women in the Territory access to the abortion pill RU486. It will come into effect on July 1 of this year.

As part of gaining access to this drug, the Northern Territory Government voted to legalise the medical termination of pregnancy (abortion pill RU486) and passed law decriminalising abortion.

Previously, according to legislation that was enacted in 1974, abortion was permitted up to 14 weeks’ gestation if maternal health or foetal disability were medically evident. The abortion itself was to be carried out in a hospital by a gynaecologist or obstetrician, ruling out the use of drugs for termination. There were and are also exceptions that allow abortion to take place if physical or mental health is at risk, but as previously mentioned, before this bill the only option was for women to undergo surgery. Further to these limitations, only two NT hospitals were equipped to carry out the procedure, making access even more difficult.

The fact that now both surgical and medical terminations are accessible in the Northern Territory is a big relief to many. The somewhat remote population of The Northern Territory now has easier, legal access to medical services that they would have previously had to travel for, helping to shorten the ever present geographical and socio-economic gap that many inevitably have to deal with.

It is refreshing to see that recent Australia wide parliamentary discussions are leaning more towards accessibility and a woman’s right to choose.

To find out more about the abortion pill, what is involved with surgical termination and more, click here.

Our team offers support and advice on surgical abortion and termination, medical abortion, early pregnancy health, fertility advice, reproductive health, Femscreen, contraception, the pill, Hormone Releasing Intrauterine System (IUS), vasectomy, sterilisation and more. Contact one of our five gynaecology clinics in Wollongong, Canberra, Newcastle, Gosford or Sydney, today!