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ACT Greens to table new abortion legislation

HerCanberra Team

This week, the ACT Greens will table legislation aimed at improving Canberra women’s access to medical abortions in the ACT. 

The Health (Improving Abortion Access) Amendment Bill 2018 will propose changes including “…that a doctor or nurse must not refuse to carry out, or to assist in carrying out, an abortion in an emergency where a woman’s health is in danger” and provide for gender neutral language to be implemented in the system, recognising that persons who do not identify as women are capable of being pregnant. 

The Greens stated that, if passed, the bill “will make medical abortion available to women across the ACT, improving access for Canberran women to exercise their reproductive rights”.

The legislation seeks to ensure that termination procedures can be carried out by all doctors and nurse practitioners, as is the case in other jurisdictions. Under current ACT legislation, abortions must be performed in an “approved facility”—currently limited to Marie Stopes and the Canberra Hospital. 

“It’s not acceptable that Canberra women are forced to travel interstate to access medical abortions,” said Greens spokesperson for Women Caroline Le Couteur. “No matter where a person lives, they should be able to exercise their reproductive health rights.”

“We welcome contributions from both the ALP and the Liberal Party on this important public health issue, and hope that they too will back women’s rights in the Territory in voting for this Bill.”

Other facets of the bill include clarifying the Health Act to ensure those who undertake a medical abortion are not inadvertently criminalised and ensuring that a doctor or nurse must inform patients if they are exercising their right to conscientiously object. 

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