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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2615 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The above extract clearly implies that a medical practitioner has a right to refrain from recommending a form of therapy on moral or religious grounds-

then there is the proviso-

providing the doctor informs the patient of alternative places to seek that care.

This is actually the formulation that Ms Tucker provides in her amendment. As Ms Tucker said, the formulation of her amendments is quite explicitly the formulation that Dr Pryor makes in his letter on this matter.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (10.01): Seeing as we have here an implied cognate debate, I certainly will not be supporting Mrs Dunne's amendment. However, I also wish to advise the house that I will not be supporting Ms Tucker's amendment either.

I have great respect for the motivation behind Ms Tucker's amendment: that there is concern for the fact that a woman may find herself in a position where she is not getting the advice she ought to receive. However, I also understand that there are protocols in place under the AMA regime.

I said earlier, when I was talking about the second bill, that I respected the deeply held convictions of those people who have an objection to abortion, whether they be philosophical convictions or religious beliefs. I would not be consistent if I did not respect the deeply held convictions of some medicos if they felt that they could not, in all conscience, give that particular information. It would be an unfortunate situation, but on balance I cannot support the element of "must" in Ms Tucker's amendment.

MRS DUNNE (10.03): To close the debate, I thank Mr Quinlan for his comments because they go to the heart of what I am trying to do. This matter is about respecting the views of the people in the medical profession who have to make these decisions.

My amendment does two things: it respects the rights of doctors, other medical practitioners and nurses not to be associated with abortion, and it does not impose upon them an obligation to shunt someone elsewhere, which is an improper imposition. As I said this morning, it allows these people to exercise their consciences, and prevents them from becoming accessories in what they might consider to be a crime. In addition, it extends what Ms Gallagher has done, not just to the individual, but to institutions who may find themselves in the same philosophical position.

I think that members cannot leave this amendment untouched, because it puts in a very precarious position one of Canberra's principal hospitals, which, because of its philosophical position, does not perform abortions. If we do not recognise that institutions have the same rights as individuals, we are putting the Calvary Hospital in an untenable position. I beg the members of this place not to do that, and to give to the Calvary Hospital the right to exercise its conscience as a Catholic institution.

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