The Queensland Parliament Health Committee has recommended the Abortion Law Reform (Woman’s Right to Choose) Amendment Bill 2016not be passed. However, a new bill known as the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016, has been introduced. This Bill is basedon the Victorian abortion legislation which continues to violate a number of human, civil and political rights that will impact on health care providers involved in women’s reproductive health.
Our Rights Are Still In Danger!
If the current proposal for changes to abortion legislation in Queensland is passed, here’s what we risk as health practitioners (doctors, nurses,pharmacists, etc):
1. Deregistration for Conscientious Objection (amended bill provides protection)
Under the new proposed Bill, Division 2, 22 (1), “noone is under a duty (by contract or by statutory or other legal requirement) to perform or assist in performing an abortion”. In theory this amendment protects our human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In practice,this amendment should protect workers from deregistration for refusing to participate in abortion.
2. Forced Referrals
Unlike the Victorian legislation that mandates referral, Mr Pyne’s Queensland Bill states, “A person is entitled to refuse to assist in performing an abortion.”
3. Wrongful Birth/Wrongful Life Claims
By making abortion legal up to birth, the proposed law will increase the risk that doctors will be found to be negligent regarding their duty of care to the unborn child
4. Employment Discrimination
The proposed amendments will impact Health practitioners such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists and social workers who object to performing abortions where there is a need to meet community demand for abortion services. This may be most intimately felt in small urban and rural health care facilities where there is a conflict between the rights of the worker to object and the rights of the patient to lawful procedures due to location and staff availability.
5. Personal Health Risk
Whether by choice or by incidental exposure, evidence shows that workers who are involved in abortions are vulnerable to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety.
6. The Code of Conduct
The current code of conduct mandates that health practitioners practice in a ‘safe and ethical’ way. Given that late term abortions risk the health of the mother; this bill will challenge the code.
Furthermore, the The AMA has adopted the World Medical Association's (WMA) Declaration of Geneva as a contemporary companion to the 2,500-year-old Hippocratic Oath for doctors to declare their commitment to their profession, their patients, and humanity. Part of the oath states, I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient and I will maintain the utmost respect for human life. Such an oath cannot be reconciled with abortion unless it can be demonstrated the unborn are not human and can therefore be denied life based on age, disability and gender discrimination.
About these Medicos writing the above:
Who We Are
We are health practitioners (including doctors and nurses), scientists, academics, lawyers, union members and students.
Our mission is to protect the rights of health practitioners – and we want optimal health care for pregnant women.
We are concerned that the current abortion law reform proposal in Queensland endangers our rights and risks the health of pregnant women.
What We Do
We advocate for the rights of health practitioners and the wellbeing of pregnant women through discussion forums, networking, information exchange and political lobbying. Based on scientific research and clinical evidence, we offer a new perspective on the abortion debate.
Why We Care
We want to protect our human right to act according to our conscience in medical matters, and we want to preserve our legal responsibility to exercise our professional judgement in medical matters. We do not want the government to impose a set of arbitrary ideologies onto the way we care for our patients.