A Call to Action

UPDATE Monday 29 Sept.

The detailed letter from Victorian doctors has now been shortened Doctors in Conscience Against Abortion Bill. It is still worth Victorian doctors signing on by contacting Dr Eamonn Mathieson eamonn.1@bigpond.net.au.

The longer letter is still available.

A new website is up and partially running doctorsconscience.org

Non-Victorian doctors can still sign in to the letter below or to Medicine With Morality.


An Urgent Call to Action re Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008.

Dear Doctor,

This bill was passed by the Victorian Legislative Assembly 49 votes to 32 at the third reading.  It was passed intact with none of the numerous amendments being passed.

These amendments included reducing to 20 weeks, counselling, the exclusion of partial birth abortions, parental permission for under-17s, but highly significant for the medical profession and Christian doctors, the amendment concerning the removal of the conscientious objection clause which reads:
8. Obligations of registered health practitioner who has conscientious objection
(1) If a woman requests a registered health practitioner to advise on a proposed abortion, or to perform, direct, authorise or supervise an abortion for that woman, and the practitioner has a conscientious objection to abortion, the practitioner must—
(a) inform the woman that the practitioner has a conscientious objection to abortion; and
(b) refer the woman to another registered health practitioner in the same regulated health profession who the practitioner knows does not have a conscientious objection to abortion.

If passed intact by the Legislative Council then doctors in Victoria will be required by law to take part in the referral process for abortion, even if they object strongly on ethical and medical grounds.

The numbers will be closer in Legislative Council where it is more likely that some of these amendments will be passed but there is no guarantee.

This is not a time for denial and “this cannot happen here”.  Fundamental to the practice of medicine is the right to liberty of conscience and the right not to engage in procedures that we consider unethical.

But there are other reasons why such a bill should concern us.

Firstly, it is not necessary.  It simply gives legal approval for what is current practice in Victoria.  It will however simplify the late abortion process that is currently found difficult by those few doctors that are involved in late-term abortions.  This is not something that should be facilitated.

Secondly, it will entrench the eugenic practices that have already crept in, including the elimination of readily correctable abnormalities such as cleft lip and give state “approval” for the elimination of anything considered less than perfect.

Thirdly, it will signal state approval for abortion at any stage of pregnancy for any reason considered “appropriate”.  No counselling or “cooling-off” period would be needed.  There would be no moral reason sanctioned by law to help a pregnant female to resist pressure from significant others to “just go and have it done – it’s legal and it’s OK”.

It would be a mistake to only concentrate our opposition to the conscientious objection clause as it is quite likely for that to be used as a bargaining chip, concede that doctors must have this right, and then pass the rest of the bill.  That is, I suspect, why the bill has gone through to Upper House unchanged so that concessions can be granted there.

Some of you will have already agreed to the letter Doctors in Conscience Against Abortion Bill being presented to MPs to be signed ONLY by doctors in Victoria. The letter will already have been presented by the time you read this.  However if you are Victorian you may still be able to have your name added for an updated presentation in which case contact Dr Eamonn Mathieson direct eamonn.1@bigpond.net.au and include title, name, qualifications, and whatever address you choose.

Medicine With Morality will be sending a companion letter (below) from doctors across Australia which is short and looks mainly at the ramifications of such a bill.  On its own it could be dismissed as being “dramatic” but not in conjunction with the very logical and dispassionate letter from Victorian doctors.

You can simply be an add-on name to this letter (please include title, name, qualifications, and whatever address you choose) or alternatively, sign in to www.medicinewithmorality.org.au where you will join with the other 150+ doctors and associates across Australia and become an automatic signatory (but get to approve letters first).  The vision statement of Medicine With Morality reads:
To preserve, in an age of rapid scientific and technological change, traditional medical ethics consistent with absolute values and to preserve the liberty of medical professionals holding these values to practise medicine according to their conscience.

If you are not yet persuaded of the gravity of all this then please familiarise yourself with the USA problem at moment and CMDA views of Sept 24

Lachlan Dunjey 0407 937 513

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