Responses to Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008
State of Victoria, Australia
Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008
legalized abortion in the State of
Section 8 of the bill demands that physicians who object to abortion for
reasons of conscience 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."
Many physicians who object to abortion also object to referral for abortion
on the grounds that to refer or otherwise facilitate the procedure makes
them morally complicit in it.
A number of individuals and groups spoke out against the bill, 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