ACT NPs and authorised midwives to prescribe MS-2 Step

Up until now, only medical practitioners have been allowed to prescribe oral MS-2 Step (mifepristone and misoprostol).  

The new legislation, the Health (Improved Abortion Access) Amendment Act ll 2024 passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly, removes barriers to nurse practitioners and authorised midwives who choose to prescribe MS-2 Step. 

The Therapeutic Good Administration last year removed restrictions on health practitioners who prescribe and dispense MS-2 Step which can terminate a pregnancy up to nine weeks gestation.  

Conscientious objection

The legislation also requires health practitioners who decline to participate in the provision of abortion services on religious or other conscientious grounds, to refer individuals to another practitioner or facility in a timely manner or to give their patients information about how to find such a provider.  

The amendments in relation to conscientious objection bring the ACT into line with other states and territories – balancing the need for timely abortion care with the right of health practitioners to not participate in the provision of services that conflict with their religious or personal beliefs.  

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the number of abortion service providers had been highlighted as a barrier to timely access for women.  

“Improved access to abortion services will allow Canberra women to obtain appropriate, safe care, and to avoid potentially detrimental impacts to their mental and physical health and wellbeing.  

“This change also supports the government’s ongoing work to ensure that Canberra’s highly skilled nurse practitioners and authorised midwives can work to their full scope of practice.”  

The amendments complement the ACT government’s accessible abortions scheme, which supports the provision of no-cost abortions and free long-acting reversible contraceptives at the time of abortion to ACT residents, including those without access to Medicare.  

The no-cost services have been available through MSI Australia since April 2023, and more recently include participating general practices, pharmacies, pathology services and medical imaging services across the Territory.  

“Making abortions free supports people to make their own decisions about their healthcare without worrying about the financial burden or how to access a service,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.  

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