Doctors can object to procedures, not specific patients, under revised religious discrimination bill

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon cautiously welcomed the revisions, saying the college will ‘carefully consider’ the revised bill.

News GP

Doug Hendrie

Under the revisions, conscientious objectors could refuse to provide treatments to which they objected on religious grounds, as long as the refusal is a blanket ban.

Speaking at a press conference, Attorney-General Christian Porter said the revised bill means it would be acceptable for a GP to, for example, refuse to ‘engage in hormone therapies’ for transgender patients broadly, but not for an individual patient only.

The revisions are intended to rule out discrimination, Mr Porter said. . . [Full text]

Woman suing two pharmacies after being denied emergency contraception

The US case brings to light concerns around conscientious objection at a time when a federal religious discrimination bill is being debated in Australia

AJP

Sheshtyn Paola

A woman has filed a lawsuit against a Thrifty White Pharmacy and a CVS Pharmacy in Minnesota in the US, alleging the two pharmacies illegally kept her from accessing emergency contraception.

Andrea Anderson, a 39-year-old mother of five, says she asked the pharmacist at her drugstore in Minnesota more than once why he couldn’t fill her prescription for emergency contraception, according to the Star Tribune.

“I then realised what was happening: he was refusing to fill my prescription for emergency contraception because he did not believe in it,” Ms Anderson said on Tuesday. . . [Full text]

Rules for doctors, pharmacists tightened in new religious discrimination bill

Sydney Morning Herald

Judith Ireland

A pharmacist could refuse to dispense contraception and a doctor could refuse to provide fertility treatment under the government’s proposed new religious discrimination laws, provided they declined to provide that particular service to all patients.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the second draft of the religious discrimination bill, released on Tuesday, would allow doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and psychologists to conscientiously object as long as it was “to a procedure, not a person”. . . [Full text]

Religious Discrimination Bill may deny ‘vulnerable’ rural patients health care, AMA warns

ABC News

Lauren Roberts

The health of “vulnerable” people living in remote communities across Australia could be put at risk if the Commonwealth pushes ahead with its Religious Discrimination Bill 2019, experts say.

Australian Medical Association NT president Dr Rob Parker has written to Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter asking for significant changes to the proposed legislation.

Dr Parker was concerned conservative doctors could deny vulnerable patients health care on moral grounds, leaving them with few other options. . . [Full text]

A complex issue

Australian Journal of Pharmacy (blog)

Chris Brooker

A majority of Australian pharmacists are in favour of pharmacy playing a dispensing role in physician-assisted suicide, providing there is a clear legislative framework 

The first study to specifically examined the perspectives of Australian pharmacists on physician-assisted suicide (PAS), found more than half of the participants in a series of interviews supported the role of pharmacists in the supply of medicines for PAS. . . [Full text]