Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Bill 2017 passes in the Northern Territory

Under the guise of ‘contemporary’ legislation the NT’s 25 member Legislative Assembly swept through a “tick-box” abortion-to-23 week bill in Parliament late Tuesday 21 March 2017.

The Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Bill 2017 passed with a vote of 20 to 4.

Mr Gerry Wood (IND - Nelson), Mr Terry Mills (IND - Blain), Hon Gerald McCarthy (ALP - Barkly) and Mr Yingiya Mark Guyula (IND - Nhulunbuy) opposed the bill.

The bill allows abortion up to 23 weeks (+ 6 days) and abortions may be provided in additional locations eg private hospitals, day surgery and clinics. The Northern Territory has only 5 gazetted medical facilities with surgical/ ICU facilities in case of emergency. Not surprisingly, this legislation will pave the way for Marie Stopes to open up abortuaries.

Not one of 17 amendments moved by Gerry Wood MLA was agreed to.

  • Up to 14 weeks pregnancy:

Abortion approved if one doctor considers “appropriate” using RU486 medical abortion drug or surgery.

Woman’s current and future medical, physical, psychological and social circumstances to be considered.

Restrictions relate to proximity of emergency services in remote areas e.g. woman to be within 2 hours of a gazetted clinic. The government will pay for transport - presumably in an emergency. Debate on who will assess road conditions – appears the practitioner will do this. An abortionist will carry a weather vane!

  • From 14 weeks to 23 weeks pregnancy:

Abortion approved if one doctor has consulted with another doctor and considering her medical, social, psychological circumstances, both current and future. No need for 2nd doctor to examine the woman.

  • Conscientious Objection:

A doctor with a conscientious objection to abortion must refer to a doctor who will comply.

  • Protests/witnesses:

A 150 metre ‘exclusion” zone applies to all abortuary facilities. Penalties apply.

Four MLAs – Mr Gerry Wood (Nelson), Mr Terry Mills (Blain), Mr Yingiya Guyula (Nhulunbuy) and Hon Gerald McCarthy (Barkly) spoke impressively about the dangers of rural and remote use of RU486. MLAs spoke about the lack of consultation with Aboriginal people and said they were not given time to consult with their constituents.

Right to Life Australia’s email from Mary Collier, attaching our media release “NT Abortion Bill-Aboriginal Concern” by Margaret Tighe, President dated 20 March 2017 (Paper 248) was tabled by Mr Paech, by leave, and recorded in Hansard of 21 March 2017.

Extraordinarily, when questions were raised about conscientious objection MLAs did not object to ‘clean up’ people losing their jobs, if they had a conscientious objection. Further, the meaning of future social circumstances could even be as obscure as a woman’s future work situation!

The upper gestational limit is to be reviewed 12-24 months post enactment of the bill, meaning that abortion to birth without restriction is be on the horizon.

The passage of this bill is a stark reminder that stripping of the human rights of the unborn child is a consequence of the composition of the Parliament. In the Northern Territory there are 6 ALP EMILY’s List women MPs who are committed to vote to enshrine abortion up to “due-date” into all Australia’s states.

A series of issues such as the refusal to release the submissions to MPs and the lack of consultation of the Aboriginal people, spoken about by at least two MPs during last night’s debate has proven fatal for many more unborn Territorians.

Sadly, but a reality, not even the amendment that the phrase “the life of an unborn human” was agreed to.

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