“ACT Expands Abortion Access: Nurse Practitioners and Midwives Authorized to Prescribe Abortion Medication”

ACT, Australia

In a significant move to improve access to abortion services, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed the Health Improved Abortion Access Amendment Act 2024 on Tuesday. The new legislation empowers nurse practitioners and authorised midwives to prescribe abortion medication, a right previously reserved only for doctors. This change aligns with the Therapeutic Good Administration’s decision last year to remove restrictions on health practitioners prescribing and dispensing MS-2 Step (mifepristone and misoprostol).

The Act also addresses conscientious objection, requiring health practitioners who decline to participate in abortion services due to religious or personal beliefs to refer patients to another provider or provide information on how to find one. This brings the ACT in line with other states and territories, balancing timely abortion care with practitioners’ rights.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith expressed pride in the ACT’s commitment to improving access to safe and legal abortions. The amendments support the ACT Government’s accessible abortions scheme, providing no-cost abortions and free long-acting reversible contraceptives to ACT residents, including those without Medicare access. These services have been available through MSI Australia since April 2023, expanding to include participating general practices, pharmacies, pathology services, and medical imaging services across the Territory. The move aims to ensure that individuals can make healthcare decisions without financial burden, furthering the Government’s commitment to safe and accessible abortion services.