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26 / 09 / 2008 - Prayer Day Called to Defeat Aussie Abortion Bill
Melbourne Prelate Says Measure Is Unprecedented Attack
MELBOURNE, Australia - The archbishop of Melbourne has declared a Day of Intercession in an attempt to stop the Abortion Law Reform Bill from being passed and put into effect as early as next month.
Archbishop Denis Hart released a pastoral letter last week regarding the bill, which passed the Legislative Assembly on Sept. 11.
"Make no mistake about it," he said, "the bill goes beyond codifying current clinical practice, as its proponents claim, and will set an unfortunate precedent which other states may follow.
The archbishop's letter includes a list of consequences of the bill, some of which violate the right to conscientious objection.
For example, it "compels a pharmacist or nurse employed or engaged in a public or private hospital or day-procedure center, if directed in writing by a doctor, to administer or to supply a drug to cause an abortion to a female who is more than 24 weeks pregnant." It also "imposes a legal obligation on doctors and nurses, notwithstanding their conscientious objection, to perform an abortion on a female in an emergency where it is deemed that the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman."
Archbishop Hart said the bill "is seriously flawed as much by what it omits as by what it contains."
He lamented that it fails to ban partial-birth abortions, to include informed consent provision, or "to safeguard the health of women by permitting abortions to be performed by doctors who have no qualifications or training in obstetrics."
Freedom of religion
The archbishop of Melbourne called the bill "an unprecedented attack on the freedom to hold and exercise fundamental religious beliefs."
He explained: "It makes a mockery of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and the Equal Opportunity Act in that it requires health professionals with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer patients seeking an abortion to other health professionals who do not have such objections. It also requires health professionals with a conscientious objection to abortion to perform an abortion in whatever is deemed an emergency. [...]
"As one commentator has put it, it is an insidious irony that this coercion of conscience is being carried out in the name of choice. Parliamentarians are being afforded the opportunity to exercise their consciences to remove the right of health professionals to exercise theirs."
Archbishop Hart also warned that the bill would put Catholic hospitals in a "vulnerable position."
"Catholic hospitals will not perform abortions and will not provide referrals for the purpose of abortion," he affirmed. "If this provision is passed it will be an outrageous attack on our service to the community and contrary to Catholic ethical codes. [...] This bill poses a real threat to the continued existence of Catholic hospitals. [...] This is a significant issue for the community at large having regard to the fact that Catholic hospitals account for approximately one third of all births and are seen by many as their hospitals of choice."
Discounting the Church
The prelate further expressed his dismay that the "Victorian Law Reform Commission created a false dichotomy in relation to conscientious objections, a dichotomy between 'adequate justification' and 'mere prejudice.' This was subsequently relied upon in debate in the Legislative Assembly. The position of the Church is postulated as 'mere prejudice' and without 'adequate justification.'"
Archbishop Hart questioned how 2,000 years of consistent teaching could be classified as "mere prejudice."
"The argument itself smacks of prejudice, is a direct attack on religious expression and unworthy of a place in a contemporary mature state which values diversity of thought," he stated.
Finally, the prelate announced that Sunday, Oct. 5, would be a Day of Intercession dedicated to the defeat of the bill. He invited the faithful not only to join in the day of prayer, but also to contact the members of the Legislative Council to express their pro-life concerns.
See also : Archbishop Hart's letter:
Source : Zenit.org