Australia Catholic Hospitals Would Have to Party Close if Abortion Bill Passed

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 22, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Catholic Hospitals Would Have to Partly Close if Abortion Bill Passed

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 22
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — A leading Catholic bishop in Australia says Catholic hospitals would have to close their maternity wards and emergency departments if the parliament of the state of Victoria approves a new bill that would officially legalize abortion.

Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne says he’s concerned about the bill and says it would result in an attack on religious freedom.

Earlier this month, the lower house in the parliament approved a bill to officially legalize abortions even though they have been allowed for years across the island nation.

Under the so-called Abortion Law Reform Bill, abortions will be allowed for any reason up to 24 weeks into pregnancy. Lawmakers approved the bill early Friday morning on a 48-28 vote.

Responding to the vote, Hart posted an open letter on the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s web site saying doctors and nurses would be forced to do abortions if the bill is approved.

If that happens, he says the 15 Catholic hospitals in the state would be forced to close portions of their centers that could see staff forced to do abortions to comply with abortion access provisions of the law.

"The bill is an unprecedented attack on the freedom to hold and exercise fundamental religious beliefs," the letter says. "It also requires health professionals with a conscientious objection to abortion to perform an abortion in whatever is deemed an emergency."

The letter notes the contradiction between allowing MPs a conscience vote on the bill but refusing conscience protections for Catholic hospitals and medical personnel.

"If this provision is passed it will be an outrageous attack on our service to the community and contrary to Catholic ethical codes," he says.

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