The Midwifery Scope of Practice: Abortion Services (March 2020)

The Abortion Legislation Bill received Royal Assent on March 23, 2020 and is now in force. This amendment updates the primary legislation for abortion, set out in the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 and the Crimes Act 1961. The legislation is available on the New Zealand Parliament | Pāremata Aotearoa website HERE.

Midwifery practice includes care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy. The prescribing of medicines to induce abortion sits within the scope of practice of a midwife. Midwives providing these services must ensure that, they have the knowledge and skills to:

  • safely prescribe the medicines
  • ensure appropriate care is provided
  • enable the woman to access counselling and culturally appropriate support
  • ensure that the woman is cared for at an appropriate facility
  • ensure that they comply with all documentation and contractual obligations as required by the Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health

Some midwives may not wish to provide abortion services, information or advisory services about whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy. Midwives must ensure the woman is told how to access the contact details of another person who is the closest provider of the service requested. They must ensure that all information provided to the woman is without bias.

Education to support midwives in the provision of abortion services will be developed and must be completed before midwives commence this work. In time, and on completion of the required education, midwives may provide surgical abortion.

In all cases the midwife must ensure that the processes of informed choice are adhered too.