Sign for Freedom by 20 June 2013

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Open Letter to Premier Hon Denis Napthine on Freedom of Conscience for Doctors

Dear Dr Napthine,

We are concerned by Section 8(1)(b) of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008because of the way that it infringes the freedom of conscience of medical practitioners. It inserts an active compulsion for a doctor to refer to another doctor, to provide a service they believe to be unethical or contrary to their professional judgment.

We value our doctors as carers, counsellors and healers. We believe it is important for doctors to be able to practise in a way which is free from interference or coercion. We believe that they will provide us with the best possible health care if they are allowed to freely exercise their professional judgment and make decisions in accord with good ethics and good medicine.

No doctor should ever be asked to act in any way which is contrary to their conscience.

If a doctor is forced to act contrary to strongly held values, their ability to practise well and safely is compromised. A doctor whose practice is guided by conscience is a doctor in whom a patient can place their trust. It is therefore in the public interest that doctors be free to practise according to their training and convictions.

The doctor-patient relationship is absolutely vital and should be guarded. Patients need to be confident that the advice they receive from their doctors arises out of the unique doctor-patient relationship, rather than being imposed from the outside.

Respect for doctors’ right to act in accord with their conscience is the ultimate safeguard against abuses of power, error and exploitation in medicine.

Section 8(1)(b) of the Abortion Law Reform Act is coercive and violates doctors’ freedom to exercise their professional judgement.

The respect in which the right to freedom of conscience has hitherto been held – a respect that is an integral part of a flourishing liberal democracy – is diminished by this law.2

We urge the Government to amend Section 8(1)(b) so that medical practitioners may be free to practise according to their conscience.

 Yours sincerely,

SIGNATURE/S: …………………………………………………………………………………………

NAME/S (block capitals: Title (e.g. Mr/Mrs etc.), First Name and Last Name):

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

ADDRESS: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… POSTCODE: ………….…………………………….

PHONE: ……………………………………… EMAIL: ……………………………………………..

1. Section 8(1) reads: “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.”

2. “Law reform must not trample on rights of conscience”,

The Age, editorial, 24/9/2008; http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/editorial/law-reform-must-not-trample-on-rights-of-conscience-20080923-4mhj.html

 Please print, sign and return to FamilyVoice Australia, GPO Box 9894, Melbourne VIC 3001 Or email to action@fava.org.au  by 20 June 2013

 

 

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