August 08, 2022
Victorian MP Fiona Patten is pushing a new bill which aims to take away the rights of publicly funded hospitals with religious affiliations to refuse to perform abortions and euthanasia.
The state’s current laws allow women to access an abortion at up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy. Abortions can still be performed after 24 weeks as long as a second doctor is consulted and agrees that the termination can go ahead. The state’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 came into effect on June 19, 2019. However, under the current legislation, hospitals which receive public funds are not required to perform abortions or euthanasia.
Ms Patten, who is the founder and leader of the Reason Party (formerly the Australian Sex Party), has claimed that “the health system is mistreating those who fund it” in cases where hospitals refuse to provide these services due to conscientious objections. She said that while: “religion is a blessing to many amid the mysteries and vagaries of existence…imposed religious faith has no place in the public health system.”
Her new ‘Health Legislation Amendment (Conscientious Objection) Bill’ states that: “A denominational hospital must not direct or otherwise cause a registered health practitioner…to refuse to provide mandatory advice and services on the basis of a conscientious objection.”
However, the bill would still permit individual workers within publicly funded hospitals to exercise conscientious objection.
This comes only a few months after former Liberal MP Bernie Finn was kicked out of the state Liberal Party for expressing his pro-life views in a Facebook post in which he celebrated the impending overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States.
There are now only three sitting weeks remaining before the state election in November.