Justine Armstrong (Victorian Division One Theatre
Speech delivered 6 October, 2008
Reproduced with permission
Queen's Hall, Parliament House, Melbourne, Australia
I am a happily married mother of two beautiful children and a skilled
theatre nurse with over 15 years nursing experience. Prior to the birth of
my second child I worked in a Victorian public hospital operating theatre.
After spending the last 4 years in full time parenting I recently planned to
renew my registration to return to work but have since placed the process on
hold awaiting the outcome of this Bill.
If passed, this Bill would force me to directly participate in abortions
as a theatre nurse. This is totally unacceptable to me and my family. It is
immoral. It violates my personal and professional ethical framework. It is
an affront to my faith and it strips me of my fundamental rights as a human
being and as a professional, to object to an action that contravenes my
In a letter to the ANF (Australian Nursing Federation) an advisor to the
Health Minister states that, "Nurses employed in operating theatres in
hospital will not have a direct relationship with the woman in question
therefore the conscientious objection clause will not apply". To say that
theatre nurses have no direct relationship with the woman demonstrates a
serious lack of understanding of the role of a theatre nurse. I quote from
the Victorian Perioperative Nurse's Group's definition that, "the
perioperative nurse clinician is responsible for both direct and indirect
patient care during surgical intervention within the operating suite."
I am not a robot, I care for my patients in a holistic manner in regards
to their emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
The future of my nursing career is under threat from this proposed
Abortion Bill. As a nurse my duty of care is to save lives, not to end life.
The other reason that I hold an objection to abortion is due to the
surgical nature of the procedure that procures an abortion. I do not have to
highlight to you the brutal nature of this surgery - you can look it up on
the internet to find out more about this.
Two years ago, I personally suffered the grief and trauma of losing my
third baby through miscarriage requiring surgical intervention. I will not
relive my trauma again and again in assisting in the intentional death of
the unborn that is similar to the surgery I underwent post my miscarriage.
This is a fundamental reason for my conscientious objection to assisting in
an abortion. I have a right to function in a workplace that safeguards my
Therefore the future of my nursing career is in the hands of Victorian
Parliamentarians this week.