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Australia needs to recognise conscience rights, not just religious rights
- David Van Gend*| . . . I ask the question: how would a Religious Discrimination Bill protect the free speech, and therefore free conscience, of traditional-minded people like me who make a stand on conscientious, not religious, grounds?
- Xavier Symons* | It is no surprise that the Religious Discrimination Bill is being criticised as too strong by aggressive secularists and too weak by people of faith. . .
It is a religious discrimination bill with a narrow focus on a very specific set of issues. . . a patchwork, jury-rigged, rickety scaffolding to placate religious critics without laying a firm foundation.
The great divide where religious beliefs and the
- Michael Quinlan*
| . . . freedom of conscience and belief is not treated with
the importance our history and international law call for
and state and territory laws regularly override religious
freedom. . . Religion is not going away. Our laws can do a better job
of accommodating people of faith. Our history demands no
The conscience rights of health practitioners must be protected
A NSW bill could deter some of the brightest and best from entering health services
- Greg Walsh* |
One of the main concerns about the Bill recently introduced to amend New South Wales laws on abortion is how health practitioners with a conscientious objection to participating in abortion will be regulated. Under the Bill, health practitioners must disclose that they have a conscientious objection if they are asked to perform, assist with, provide advice about, or make a decision concerning whether an abortion should be performed. . .
Abortion bill in New South Wales a global first
Freedom of conscience conditional upon gestational age
New euthanasia/assisted suicide law in Australia
Victoria's Voluntary Assisted Dying
- Sean Murphy*
| On 19 April, 2018, the legislature of the State of
Victoria, Australia, passed the
Voluntary Assisted Dying
Act 2017, which will come into force in
June, 2019. It is currently the most restrictive
euthanasia/assisted suicide (EAS) legislation in the
world, running to 130 pages. In brief, the law
authorizes physician assisted suicide for terminally ill
adults, but permits euthanasia by physicians only when
patients are physically unable to self-administer a
lethal drug. In both cases a permit must be
obtained in advance. The main elements of the law
are set out below, followed by consideration of its
protection of conscience provisions.
Politicians wrestle with doctors'
consciences in Victoria: Conscientious objection needs to be
- Paul Russell*
| As the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Panel
on "assisted dying" makes ready to release its
interim report sometime in April, The
Age newspaper turned its attention to
the matter of conscience whether a doctor may
refuse to take part in any action that would
bring about the premature and deliberate death
of a person. Conscience - or the ability
to draw upon one's own personal belief system in making a
decision about an action - plays out at different levels in
any debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide.
. . .
The Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008
legalized abortion in the
State of Victoria, Australia. It demands that physicians
who object to abortion for reasons of conscience must refer a
woman to a colleague who has no such objections in order to
facilitate the procedure, and requires physicians to perform
abortions if necessary "to preserve the life of the pregnant
woman." A number of individuals and groups spokeout
against the bill and the law, often for a combination of reasons.
Doctors in Conscience Against Abortion Bill
- . . .We believe it to be an attack on the basic human rights of
health professionals which undermines their moral integrity and
professional autonomy. The state should not coerce its health
professionals to participate in the taking of human life. . .
Dr. John Neil
- . . . It is ludicrous that a "registered medical practitioner"
should have to perform an emergency abortion. Firstly it is coercive,
and others will speak about this. Secondly, it is based on a false
premise that an emergency abortion actually is ever necessary. Coercion
to make an "effective referral" is also unnecessary and prejudicial. . .
Mary Lewis, MBBS, FRACGP, DRANZCOG, MICD, B Min
- . . .This Bill misrepresents and undervalues the process and
responsibilities of professional referral. This Bill implies that
referral removes obligation and participation. However, referrals
between medical professionals imply a partnership of care. . . There is
no way that a practitioner can make or receive such a referral in good
conscience if they do not agree with the procedure and care to be
undertaken. . .
Jacinta Le Page (Medical Student)
- . . . Firstly, referring personally to another medical practitioner,
as this Bill states, seems to be clearly participating in abortion. . .
we fear we will be required to research for a colleague who will readily
'help' her have an abortion. Such a personal referral equals
participation in the killing. . .
Joanne Grainger (Registered Nurse, Bioethicist)
- . . . I am not here representing all Victorian nurses - that would
be a presumptuous assertion. However, there are over 80,000 registered
nurses in Victoria - and I speak on behalf of those many nurses who have
a conscientious objection to their participation in an abortion on
religious, cultural, personal or ethical grounds. . .
Full text of speech
Justine Armstrong (Victorian Division One Theatre Nurse)
- 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 personal conscience.
The Australian Egyptian Doctors and the Coptic Doctors
- . . .The bill as it stands . . .coerces the health practitioner to
behave or act in a manner which comprises his or her ethics, morals,
culture and religious beliefs. . .(Egyptian Doctors)
George Cardinal Pell
- The rights of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
are fundamental. The ability to exercise conscientious objection is a
keystone of democracy. All of us should have the right to hold a belief
and not be compelled by the state to act contrary to that conviction. It
is the difference between the free society and the one subject to
Full text of news release
- . . .This centrality of conscience in rights discourse hardly is
surprising. Of all the rich and varied freedoms, the freedom to think
and believe is fundamental. Without it people not only have fewer human
rights, they are less human. . .
. . . One of the most objectionable features of this
legislation is that it effectively removes doctors' right to conscientious
objection. It requires doctors-who-won't to refer women to doctors-who-will.
Furthermore, "in an emergency where the abortion is necessary to preserve
the life of the pregnant woman", the doctor must perform it. . .
A question of conscience
- . . . corrupting the medical profession by forcing doctors and nurses to
collude in this is a clear violation of a universally acknowledged human
right to freedom of conscience. Nowhere else in the world does such a
draconian law exist, not in New Zealand, not in the United Kingdom, not in
Canada, not in the United States. . .
Liberty of Conscience in Medicine: A Declaration
- . . . Liberty of conscience is critical for individual doctors as it
lies at the very heart of our integrity and self-identity. It is
conscience that must compel doctors to refuse to participate in
treatments they believe to be un-ethical or that they consider not to be
in the best interests of patients. . .
Full Text of
Conscience Laws and Healthcare Conference
- Dr. Lachlan Dunjey: In this video, Dr Lachlan
Dunjey speaks on the topic: The Coercion of Doctors: What is
happening to modern medicine?
- Francis Sullivan:
In this video, Francis
Sullivan speaks on the topic: Freedom of Conscience and Good Medical
Practice: The Australian Medical Association's position.
- Martin Laverty:
In this video, Martin Laverty
speaks on the topic: The Victorian Abortion Law and the threat to
religious affiliated healthcare.
- Nigel Preston:
In this video, Nigel Preston
speaks on the topic: The Victorian Abortion Law and Conscientious
Healthworkers: Is there a way out or do we need a test case?
Julian McGauran: In this video, Julian
McGauran speaks on the topic: The Coercion of Conscience: A Federal
Why the right to conscientious objection must be restored
- David van Gend*
| I feel a little out of place coming from
Queensland to speak about the wretched situation in Victoria: coming from a
State where it is always sunny, where the people are always nice, and where we
don't have oppressive laws that try to compel the conscience of free citizens. But we are all in this together: an
assault on fundamental freedoms in one State will become a precedent for similar
abuses in other States. . .
The Australian state of Victoria has a world first: a law which forces doctors to refer women for abortion or to do it themselves -- even if they have a conscientious objection.
- Michael Cook* | Set in a huge mosaic in the lobby of Parliament House in Melbourne is a
Biblical proverb, "Where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the
multitude of counsellors there is safety." A good number of healthcare
workers in the state of Victoria must be wondering now whether this is still
true. Last week their Victorian legislators passed the only law in the
Western world which forces doctors and nurses to participate in abortions
against their conscience. . . .
A question of conscience.
Why are pro-choice activists so dismissive of freedom of conscience?
- Michael Cook* | The conscience of a moral relativist makes arbitrary, even capricious, choices. It is just a whim. The traditional view of conscience is quite different. Only a malfunctioning conscience is capricious.
New frontiers in repressing dissent
- Mishka Gora*
| Tasmania may be small, but it will punch far above its weight on the
world stage in shutting down protests against abortion if a new bill is
passed. . . the real aim of the Labor-Green coalition which is running
Tasmania is to criminalize abortion dissent.
Submission to the Tasmanian Government
- Australian Medical Association Tasmania Ltd.
| AMA Tasmania has grave concerns that the draft legislation has the
potential to criminalise members of the profession with conscientious
objection to termination of pregnancy.