Australian Lawyers for Human Rights submission on reform of abortion laws in the NT

January 30, 2017

ALHR has written a submission to the NT Attorney-General and Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles MLA, on proposed changes to legislation governing termination of pregnancy in the Territory.

Access to abortion in the NT is extremely limited and inconsistent with other jurisdictions. The NT government proposes to repeal section 11 of the Medical Services Act, introduce a new Act governing abortion and amend the Criminal Code Act. Information about the proposals is available in this discussion paper and related FAQ document.

ALHR supports the proposals. However, ALHR has submitted that the reforms needs to be much wider than what is currently proposed.

ALHR supports reforms that uphold sexual and reproductive health rights, and allow women and girls autonomy over their own bodies and health. Specifically, ALHR supports:

  • broadening the circumstances in which abortion services can be provided;
  • enabling women’s access to medical termination, such as through RU486;
  • the creation of safe access zones;
  • enabling girls under the age of 18, who have sufficient capacity, providing their consent to an abortion, without the requirement for consent necessarily defaulting to an adult; and
  • thorough consideration of the remoteness of the Northern Territory and accessibility of services for Aboriginal women in the development of any guidelines in support of the new legislation.

These recommendations are supported by existing international human rights law and international human rights law bodies, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsthe Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

To read ALHR’s full submission please click here.