Pharmacists Will Be Able To Refuse To Give Contraception Under Government's Religious Freedoms Bill
The Aussie government unveiled its new look Religious Freedoms bill yesterday, much to the dismay of people who thought the Prime Minister should have focused on the smoke haze choking parts of New South Wales.
But now that the dust has settled, analysts have poured through the amended bill and found something rather shocking.
Under the bill, which the government put forward after the same-sex marriage vote to allow religious people to have particular freedoms, some areas of medicine will have greater powers.
Pharmacists will be able to refuse to give out contraception and doctors will similarly get to refuse to offer fertility treatment.
The new conscientiously object powers would be bestowed to doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and psychologists.
However, it comes with a clause.
If a pharmacist were to refuse to give out something like the pill to a woman needing birth control, they would have to object to the 'procedure not the person'. In other words, the objector would do the same thing to every person regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, age, etc.
Attorney-General Christian Porter told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that a doctor could refuse to prescribe hormone treatment for a trans person, for example.
"That's fine, but you have to exercise that in a consistent way, so you don't engage in the procedure at all," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is confident in the bill and hopes it will give religious people some legal backing in tricky situations.
"This is a bill for all Australians. Australia is a country of respect and of tolerance," he told reporters yesterday.
The bill was first put forward in August however stakeholders said some of the key areas lacked specification and the government was forced to go back to the drawing board and make things clearer.
This new bill has clarified the definition of what 'constitutes a religious body' and has tightened the definition of vilification.
The 'Folau Clause' has also remained, meaning businesses can be called out for discrimination if an employee expresses their religious beliefs that might conflict with the company's brand.
"[Companies] would have to show there's undue financial hardship [as a result of the belief being expressed]," Mr Porter said.
Stakeholders will have time to review the amendments and make a decision on whether to accept them or request the government make more changes.
Featured Image Credit: PA