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Religious hospitals in Victoria could soon be forced to carry out abortions.
Reason Party leader Fiona Patten is expected to introduce a new bill to parliament this week that could stop religious hospitals in the state from refusing to provide the procedure, as well as contraceptive treatment and end-of-life options.
ABC News reports that the bill will state that any religious hospitals funded by taxpayer money must not refuse to carry out any reproductive health services.
Ms Patten said that the proposed legislation is an effort to make abortion more accessible as the public health care system is ‘mistreating those who fund it’.
That is why we need to lead on this issue. We show women everywhere that these are rights and they are worth fighting for. #auspol— Fiona Patten MP (@FionaPattenMLC) July 31, 2022
“Publicly funded hospitals and other health institutions have no right to refuse these legally enshrined rights that a woman has control over her body and reproductive health,” Patten said.
“Religion is a blessing to many amid the mysteries and vagaries of existence, but imposed religious faith has no place in the public health system.”
Under the current state law, women can receive an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy; however, some hospitals can refuse to provide the procedure claiming ‘conscientious grounds’.
But the MP used Mercy Health as an example of why the system needs to change.
"The Mercy Hospital, which is one of the largest obstetric hospitals in Victoria, it is a publicly funded hospital," she said.
"They refuse to provide contraception, they refuse to provide abortions when patients need them and this is just not right."
However, she maintained that the bill would not affect private hospitals and individual medical professionals.
Following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V Wade last month, the Australian Prime Minister was pressured to comment on whether the country would enact free abortions.
While appearing on 3AW Radio, he said: “It's a state matter, state matter. States control hospitals.”
But wasn’t that the point of the Supreme Court’s decision? Whether the state should be allowed to rule on abortion?
Greens spokesperson on Women, Larissa Waters, spoke to Vice about the Australian leader’s remarks: “Abortions should be available through the public health system, and Albanese has the power to deliver that through using the federal funding lever.
"He shouldn’t avoid responsibility for it as he sought to do today.
“Access to safe, legal abortion remains a postcode lottery in Australia, with different rules, costs and availability depending on where you live. Some people are having to travel for hours at significant expense to access this basic healthcare service.”
Featured Image Credit: Alamy Stock Photo. Michael Currie / Speed Media / Alamy Live News.
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