NT Reproductive Choice Act Receives Assent

Monday 20 December 2021 @ 2.57 p.m. | Legal Research

After being introduced to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on 27 October 2021 by the Minister for Health Natasha Fyles ("the Minister"), the Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (NT) (“the Bill”) passed the Assembly on 30 November 2021.

Its corresponding Act, the Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (NT) ("the Act") received assent on 15 December 2021.

The Act amends the following legislation:

  • Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act 2017 (NT);
  • Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Regulations 2017 (NT); and
  • Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT).

Object of the Bill

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Statement, the purpose of the Act is:

“to further improve safe access to reproductive choice for women in the Northern Territory”.

The Minister, in her second reading speech, clarified the key change in legislation:

"At the moment, women seeking a termination of pregnancy after 14 weeks and up to 23 weeks, must be examined by two doctors. The [Act] removes this requirement  meaning any woman seeking a termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks gestation will only need to be examined by one doctor."

Additionally the Act will also allow for termination after 24 weeks. This is following consultation between 2 medical practitioners. The Minister's second reading speech explains:

"Allowing terminations over 24 weeks gestation—following consultation between two medical practitioners—means a patient has more time to consider information regarding complex decisions and be able to travel interstate and get information and travel back to their home. It aligns the Northern Territory with the vast majority of other Australian jurisdictions, which means Territory women can access this service in the Northern Territory, not interstate. This will allow Territory women to be at home when they are going through this difficult and personal time."

The Act also contains changes to the Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Regulations 2017 (NT) in order to clarify the requirements around the registration and credentials of qualified medical practitioners that are allowed to assist in this medical procedure. Previous legislation has created confusion as to these requirements that had created unnecessary administrative burdens on stakeholders.

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Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (NT), corresponding Bill, and additional explanatory materials available from TimeBase LawOne Service

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