The Australian Catholic Students Association is condemning a bill in the state of Victoria that will decriminalize abortion up to 24 weeks of development and also force pro-life medical professionals to perform an abortion if the mother’s life is at risk.
The Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008 under consideration in the southeastern state of Victoria will, if passed, decriminalize abortion including abortions performed up until birth as long as two registered medical professionals agree “abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances.” Whether or not an abortion is “appropriate” will depend on “the woman's current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances.”
Right to Life Australia also claims on its website that, “The legislation shuts the door on any judge who tries to find a right to life for the unborn baby in the common law. The Bill provides for an amendment to the Crimes Act which states, “Any rule of common law that creates an offence in relation to procuring a woman's miscarriage is abolished.” The Bill enshrines the so called right to abortion completely, and warns judges never to review this ‘right’ to kill babies.”
Elise Nally, President of the Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA), notes that the Bill does not reflect wider community attitudes to abortion.
"A majority of Australians want to see the number of abortions reduced. Instead, this Bill does the opposite, and sends the message that abortion is the best answer to an unwanted pregnancy. Women in vulnerable positions particularly may find themselves under more pressure to seek abortions under the proposed law,” she noted.
Allowing widespread abortion as a panacea for a woman’s difficult circumstances, Nally argues, produces harmful physical and mental problems for women instead of helping them. "Legislators should be looking at ways to promote alternatives to abortion, such as mandatory counselling. This would also help to prevent vulnerable women being pressured into having abortions," Miss Nally said.
Patrick Giam, ACSA's Media Officer, attacked the portions of the bill that violate mdeical professionals' right to conscientious objection as totally unacceptable.
"Not only does this Bill attack the right to life, which all unborn children deserve, it also attacks doctors' freedom of belief. Even where doctors may have reasoned moral views against abortion, this Bill forces them to assist women to procure abortions and in some cases even perform it themselves. This is a deplorable attack on the freedom of our medical professionals.
"Even the AMA Code of Ethics does not require a medical practitioner to refer a woman seeking abortion to another practitioner. This obligation in the Bill will compromise the ability of our doctors to act in a professional and morally responsible manner," Giam said.