For release: Monday, December 2, 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the motion passed by the Victorian Liberal State Council supporting an amendment to abortion laws to allow doctors’ conscience.

Yesterday’s motion to support the amendment of Section 8 of the Abortion Law Reform Act to allow a health practitioner not to have to refer for abortions follows recent petitions seeking this amendment.

Petitions were tabled in the Legislative Assembly last week by a National, a Liberal and two Labor MPs’ with a total of 4,314 signatures. Furthermore an online petition, seeking this same reform, has over 3,300 signatures.

ACL’s Victorian Director Dan Flynn said the Liberal State Council motion is good policy that recognises freedom of conscience.

“The current effect of the referral element of Section 8 is to shut down conversations between the doctor and the patient that explore other options apart from abortion,” he said.

“This is evidenced by the plight of Dr. Mark Hobart who is currently under investigation by the Medical Board for failing to refer a woman for abortion in response to a request to abort a 19 week old unborn girl because she was a girl instead of a boy.

“The importance of conscience is not confined to abortion. In a healthy society, medical practitioners must be free to take into account matters of conscience in providing holistic patient care across the full range of medical services,” he said.

Mr Flynn said that the proposed amendment would not affect access to abortion in the state.

“Currently a woman doesn’t need a referral from a GP, unlike many other medical procedures, to access abortion in Victoria. This proposed amendment seeks to remove the requirement that health practitioners with a conscientious objection must refer a patient to someone they know does not have such an objection," he said.

“The Australian Christian Lobby urges politicians of all persuasions to make this sensible amendment so that Victorian medical practitioners are no longer forced to act against their consciences,” Mr Flynn said.