Media Release

ACT government plan to outlaw conscience

The ACT government intent to introduce penalties for health care workers who conscientiously object to administering a poison for the purpose of assisting a patient to suicide or who fail to provide information about how to access assisted suicide, even when done so on religious grounds, has met with resistance from faith leaders.

Canberra and Goulburn Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse criticised ACT’s planned assisted suicide laws for their failure to protect conscientious objection, saying, “simply exercising one’s conscience in full is sufficient to be considered and penalised as criminal”.

Spokesperson for the Australian Christian Lobby, Joshua Rowe said, “It is abysmal that the administering of a poison to a patient is not considered a procedure to which a health care worker can conscientiously object. There is no question here, we are dealing with forcing a health care worker to assist someone to commit suicide.

“Justice Wendy Abraham’s recent high court ruling solidified this fact at the end of last month stating that the use of a carriage service for VAD constitutes the promotion of ‘suicide’.”

Mr. Rowe emphasised, “We should never seek to destigmatise practices that deserve the accompanying stigma, simply by sanitising language. The manipulation of language to make ‘death by suicide’ sound more benign by using terms such as VAD, does not change the fact that VAD is a form of suicide.”

ACL calls on the ACT Government to include protections in any legislation for health care workers who conscientiously object to assisting a patient to commit suicide.

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