Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2978 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
But this is probably more important, Mr Speaker. Let us say that you go to a cardiac specialist. The cardiac specialist says, "Ms Carnell, you are in big trouble here. Your arteries are blocking up. You are going to have to have an operation". On the basis of Mr Humphries' argument, you would have to go to another specialist, because that specialist, by suggesting an operation that he or she would then provide, would obviously have a conflict of interest and therefore could not actually do your surgery. Mr Speaker, that is quite absurd.
The other thing that concerns me, I suppose, at very much a grassroots level, is that the Family Planning Clinic itself is a very important clinic providing day-to-day GP services for many women in Canberra; that is, the clinic - not the abortion clinic; the actual Family Planning Clinic. It has GPs and other services available to women generally. The Family Planning Clinic itself, as I say, has many Canberra women as clients. What this would do is rule the Family Planning Clinic, as a GP clinic, out of the - - -
Mr Humphries: No.
MS CARNELL: Actually it would rule it out of the cycle, shall we say. The Family Planning Clinic is run by the Family Planning Association, which also owns or is the operator of the abortion clinic, and therefore would fall out under "not employed or engaged in the management" and so on, Mr Speaker. On that basis, we would have a stupid situation where somebody who was going to a GP at the Family Planning Clinic, who had gone to that GP for a long time and who now became pregnant, would be forced to go to another GP, who knew nothing about the background of the patient at all. In fact, he would probably have to ring the GP at the Family Planning Clinic to find out about the patient to provide some information.
Mr Humphries: What a load of baloney, Chief Minister.
MS CARNELL: It is absolutely true, Mr Humphries, and you know it. Mr Speaker, on the basis of those issues, I do not think any of us would want to upset the viability of the Family Planning Clinic or rule the Family Planning Clinic out of this whole patient care scenario - this continuity of care deal. You cannot argue that doctors that are giving advice on abortions are somehow less professional than GPs at health centres or cardiac specialists. That is what this says - that they cannot give balanced advice that we expect from every other doctor in our health system.
MR OSBORNE (11.48): I will be supporting Mr Humphries' amendment, Mr Speaker. I supported the deletion of what was in the original Bill, knowing that Mr Humphries was going to put up this modified version, mainly to cover, I thought, the issue of the hospital. I think that this issue is different from someone going to visit their cardiologist or any other doctor in relation to an operation. When the majority of people go to see a doctor of that nature they really have no choice. I find that debate interesting. There needs to be some sort of distance from the people making an income out of women who have an abortion. I think that Mr Humphries' amendment is quite sensible. I find it odd that someone should be going to a doctor for advice when there is a good chance that the doctor is going to make money if the client goes a certain way. I am not implying that there is anything wrong with that, but we would like there to be some distance in issues like this. Mr Humphries' amendment is a fair compromise.