Victorian Premier and Opposition Leader pledge to allow conscience vote on forcing doctors to participate in abortion

News Release

Australian Christian Lobby

The Victorian Premier and Opposition Leader will allow a conscience vote if a private members’ bill is introduced to restore freedom to doctors to decline to participate in abortion.

Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews were responding to questions from Christian leaders at the Australian Christian Lobby’s Make it Count forum at Queens’ Hall, Parliament House last night.

Their commitments come following sanctions imposed on Melbourne Doctor Mark Hobart, who declined to assist a couple who wanted their baby girl aborted so they could try again for a boy.

“If a private members’ bill was introduced then we would certainly allow a conscience vote,” Dr. Napthine said.

“My position would be to afford a conscience vote,” Mr Andrews said.

ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn welcomed the leaders’ commitments to allow a parliamentary vote on whether or not doctors should be forced to participate in abortion by making a referral for an abortion.

“No one should be forced to go against their conscience on an issue which involves the taking of a human life,” Mr Flynn said.

The leaders were asked about a range of issues including domestic violence, freedom of religion, poker machine reform and the ice epidemic.

Asked whether “your Government (would) commission independent research into whether there are features in poker machines that lead to gambling addiction”, Mr Andrews committed to examining “the best research, the best evidence”.

On family violence, Dr. Napthine said: “Men particularly need to stand up”.

Mr. Andrews said family violence was the leading cause of death or disability for women aged 45 and under and was “national disgrace”.

On religious freedom, Mr Flynn expressed disappointment about Labor’s election policy, reiterated last night by Mr Andrews, to amend Equal Opportunity laws to diminish the freedom of faith-based schools to employ staff who share their ethos.

Dr. Napthine was called away from the forum to deal with last night’s terrorism-related shooting of an Islamic extremist just moments before Mr Andrews concluded taking questions.

The pre-election Make it Count event was attended by 150 Christian leaders from a wide cross-section of denominations and churches.

Abortion law changes eyed as Dr Mark Hobart probed

The Sydney Morning Herald

Henrietta Cook

The Napthine government is not ruling out changes to Victoria’s abortion laws ahead of an investigation into a doctor who refused to give a couple an abortion referral because they wanted a boy.

The state government said it was interested in the outcome of the Medical Board of Victoria’s investigation into Mark Hobart, a pro-life doctor who has been accused of breaking the state’s abortion laws.

It comes as pro-life advocates run a concerted campaign to repeal a section of the Abortion Law Reform Act, which requires doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion to refer a woman to someone with no such objection. [Full story]

Doctor risks his career after refusing abortion referral

Perth Now/Herald Sun

Miranda Devine

A DOCTOR risks being deregistered because he allegedly refused a referral for an Indian couple who wanted to abort a healthy unborn baby girl at 19 weeks, simply because they wanted a boy.     

Dr Mark Hobart, 55, has been under investigation by the Medical Board of Victoria for five months, accused of having committed an offence under the state’s controversial Abortion Law Reform Act of 2008.

His patient and her husband requested a sex-selection abortion after an ultrasound determined their fetus was female.

They only wanted a boy, the husband told Dr Hobart, who, as a practising Catholic, had a conscientious objection to providing the abortion.

Under Victorian law, he was obliged to refer the patient to a doctor he knew would terminate the pregnancy.

But Dr Hobart doesn’t know any doctor who would agree to abort a healthy baby for sex selection reasons.

“The general response from my colleagues is disbelief and revulsion,” he said.

In any case, a referral is not necessary for an abortion. Hobart’s patient independently procured the abortion a few days later. Neither she nor her husband made any complaint.

But Dr Hobart now finds himself subject to a star chamber inquiry by the Medical Board of Victoria.  [Full text]