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Matter of conscience
On 29 March the Herald Sun headlined as follows: "Penalty fear: Doctor's abortion stance may be punished." Melbourne GP, Dr Mark Hobart, had been asked by a couple for a referral for an abortion on the grounds that their unborn baby was a girl and they didn't want another daughter. Dr Hobart refused.
In doing so, he has contravened Section 8 of the Abortion Law Reform Act which obliges any doctor with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer such people to a doctor who has no such objection.
A separate article has revealed how another Victorian doctor has been "cautioned" by the Medical Board for saying in an online discussion that he could not refer for abortions. This doctor has been told that if he comes back before the Board they will treat it very seriously. It is suggested that the ultimate penalty may be deregistration from medical practice.
As a practising GP, I have always refused to refer for abortion. I know I could never do so, regardless of the law.
ARNOLD JAGO (DR)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 26 No 6 (July 2013), p. 16
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