Victorian MP launches bid to force religious hospitals to perform abortions

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Victorian MP Fiona Patten is seeking to force taxpayer-funded religious hospitals to offer abortions, contraceptive treatment and end-of-life options.

Party leader Reason will introduce a bill in state parliament this week that would remove the right of hospitals that receive taxpayer funding to refuse to provide reproductive health services and voluntary assisted dying due to ” corporate conscientious objection”.

“I am proposing legislation to protect and extend fundamental human rights currently being violated in public hospitals,” Ms Patten said.

“The health system mistreats those who fund it.”

Ms Patten said enforced religious faith had no place in the public health system and hospitals receiving funding had no right to deny legally registered abortion and contraception, or access assisted dying for the terminally ill.

Fiona Patten cited Mercy Health as an example of a network of religious hospitals that received public funding but refused contraception and abortion services.(ABC News: Margaret Paul)

Ms. Patten cited Mercy Health as an example of a religious provider that did not offer certain services.

“Mercy Hospital, which is one of the largest obstetric hospitals in Victoria, is a publicly funded hospital,” she said.

“They refuse to provide contraceptives, they refuse to provide abortions when patients need them and that’s just not right.”

Private hospitals that receive no public funding would not be affected if the bill were passed, nor would individual practitioners.

Fiona Patten wears a black striped jacket over a white shirt and smiles at the camera
Fiona Patten says the bill will be debated within the next fortnight.(Provided)

Ms Patten said the bill was intended to ensure abortions remained legal, available and safe in Victoria, and noted the controversial overturning of the Roe v Wade decision by the US Supreme Court.

“We have all just seen what happened in America and we must ensure that women’s rights to abortion, contraception and other forms of reproductive health are enshrined and protected in this state” , she said.

“There’s no reason to think there won’t be pushes in Australia and Victoria to change our abortion laws here.”

Victoria’s Minister of Health, Mary-Anne Thomas, declined to say whether the state government would support the bill.

“The Victorian government already has the most progressive laws in the country when it comes to supporting women in exercising their reproductive rights,” Ms Thomas said.

“As Minister of Health, I will always champion the rights of women to access the sexual and reproductive health services they need throughout our state.”

Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said she supported women’s rights but could not say whether she would support the bill because she had not seen what Ms Patten was proposing.

‘I don’t trust Ms Patten after the last two and a half years and the deals she has made with the government, so I would like to see the details of the bill,’ Ms Crozier said.

She also strongly criticized Ms Patten’s timing of introducing the Bill to Parliament.

“Where is his gratitude to these hard-working doctors, nurses and health care workers who have done so much for so many Victorians over the past two and a half years?”

Catholic Hospital Says ‘Moral Reasons’ Behind Abortion Denial

Mercy Health declined to be interviewed, but referred the ABC to statements on its website.

He said that as a Catholic supplier, he values ​​the dignity of life, from conception to death.

“There are two areas where, for moral reasons, we do not provide certain services: women’s health and end-of-life care,” the website says.

He said his refusal to provide abortion and assisted dying services was “consistent with the Hippocratic tradition of medicine.”

“We aim to do no harm, relieve pain, provide compassionate care for the whole person, and never give up on those in our care.”

Catholic Health Australia told the ABC it could not comment because it had not yet seen the details of the bill.

Lawyers say religious hospitals are denying a basic human right

Women’s Health Victoria is a statewide advocacy service that also offers sexual and reproductive services online and over the phone.

CEO Dianne Hill said access to abortion is a fundamental part of comprehensive health care and women need to trust that hospitals will take care of all their sexual and reproductive health needs.

She said Women’s Health Victoria supports any legislative reform that improves access to abortion and contraception.

“Access to abortion and contraception is compromised for women and people with a womb due to systemic and structural inequalities, including financial insecurity, geographic location, health issues, cultural safety and health literacy,” she said.

“Barriers created by health services – where they may have provided maternity care to a person but will not provide birth control or abortion services – further exacerbate these problems, reduce choices and deny people’s reproductive rights. .”

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