AUSTRALIAN NEWS 10th APRIL 2013
ATTEMPT TO DECRIMINALISE ABORTION IN TASMANIA
A private member’s bill that proposes complete decriminalization of abortion in Tasmania has been condemned by critics as a draconian measure that would violate Tasmanians’ human rights. The bill also imposes severe penalties for conscience objection by health professionals and even public protest against abortion. “This isn’t about women’s access to abortion,” said Mishka Gora of the pro-life group Human Rights for the Unborn – Tasmania, a new umbrella organization created in response to the draft Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013 which has been tabled by Tasmania’s health minister Michelle O’Byrne.
Abortion was legalized in Tasmania in 2001, right up until birth. This legislation introduces a number of draconian laws that severely restrict the right of conscientious objection and freedom of speech. The proposed legislation places a “duty to treat” on doctors and nurses if a pregnant woman is deemed to be at risk of serious injury. Doctors who believe it is best to treat the symptoms arising from pregnancy or to terminate the pregnancy via caesarean section or induction rather than an abortion would be forced to directly destroy a human embryo or foetus against their conscience and better judgment.
“Catholic hospitals will be required to offer abortion as a treatment option.” Gora said. The bill mandates that doctors and counselling services who have a conscientious objection to abortion will have to refer women to a doctor/counsellor who does not have such an objection. The penalty for non-compliance is up to $65,000. “If the bill passes, a counsellor for an organization supporting pregnant women could be jailed for a year and fined up to $65,000 if they refuse to refer a woman to a place where she can get an abortion,” Gora said. “Overnight, all agencies which disagree with abortion will be forced to shut down.”
The proposed Bill also imposes a 300-metre-wide exclusion zone around abortion centres, prohibiting a range of activities that include peaceful protests, church rallies, and even street photography. The exclusion zone around Hobart’s CDB abortion clinic includes St Joseph’s Catholic Church and the Anglican cathedral. In Launceston, the exclusion zone includes part of a Catholic hospital and a major park. “A priest preaching against abortion in his own church, participants in a prayer vigil, someone wearing a pro-life T-shirt while walking in the city, or a photographer taking candid shots of street life could all be arrested,” Gora said.
Of great concern to critics of the proposed legislation was that the Green-Labor Coalition government gave only two weeks for public input on the Bill which has now passed. Liberal MP Jeremy Rockliff said the Bill and the short time allowance for public input was a smokescreen to hide the Government’s mishandling of the economy. “Abortion has effectively been legal in Australian states for more than 40 years, although it has remained in the criminal code. The number of prosecutions in all that time can be counted on one hand. So why the sudden enthusiasm for decriminalization?” asked Ms Gora.
“Because the real aim of the Labor-Green coalition which is running Tasmania is to criminalize abortion dissent. The Health Minister, Michelle O’Byrne, has drafted what may be the most draconian abortion law anywhere,” Gora said. “Victoria decriminalized abortion in 2008. Ms O’Byrne says that this is the model for her bill. But the Victorian bill contains no penalties for conscientious objectors; the Tasmanian bill does. The Victorian bill doesn’t mention counsellors; the Tasmanian bill threatens counsellors with jail. The Victorian bill doesn’t mention protests; the Tasmanian bill threatens protesters with jail,” she said.
SURVEY REVEALS CRISIS FACING INNER – CITY HOMELESS
A survey of inner-city homeless and needy people in Sydney has provided a startling insight into the entrenched nature of the disadvantage they suffer. The survey entitled The homeless of the inner-city: A snapshot 2013 was conducted by the Sydney-based charity The Exodus Foundation, in conjunction with Macquarie University. It identified crisis levels of housing and health among the homeless. ‘Mental health issues are at crisis levels.’ The results were collected from the homeless who utilised the nightly meal service offered by The Exodus Foundation’s city mobile food van.
A total of 50.7% had no permanent accommodation, either sleeping rough or in boarding houses, pointing to a dire shortage of affordable housing supply. Alarmingly, almost two-thirds had used the food van for more than 12 months, indicating an entrenched level of disadvantage. ‘The homeless of the inner-city appear to be slipping through government safety nets’, said Rev. Bill Crews CEO of The Exodus Foundation. ‘Government agencies seem unable to place them in long-term secure accommodation, nor provide the assistance they need to ease their level of poverty.’
‘Almost 25% of those surveyed were under 30 years of age.’ Of great concern was the extent to which inner-city homeless people suffered mental illness. The survey revealed almost 55% suffered diagnosed mental health conditions. ‘Mental health issues are at crisis levels among the homeless and needy of the inner-city’, said Rev. Crews. ‘If any other part of the community suffered to this extent there would be demands for government intervention. I can only hope this survey acts as a catalyst for government action.’
Source: Exodus Foundation
WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES – SYDNEY 15-18 MAY 2013
The World Congress of Families (WCF), founded in 1997 by Dr Allan Carlson of the Howard Centre for Family, Religion and Society in Rockford, Illinois, USA, has become the premier event in the world to support the natural family. Since 1997 the WCF has been successfully held in Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), Warsaw (2007), Amsterdam (2009) and Madrid (2012). This year it will be held in Sydney from 15th – 18th May. Speakers include: Bradford Wilcox, Dr Janice Shaw Crouse, Dr Patrick Fagan, John Anderson, Patrick Parkinson and many others.
The theme of the Congress is “Happy Families, Healthy Economy – A new vision for National prosperity and social process”. It will explore how business, government, education, law, healthcare and the media can strengthen families for the benefit of society. The aim of the World Congress of Families is to promote the natural family as the fundamental social unit and the ‘seedbed’ of civil society. It seeks to inspire people from all walks of life to consider and implement strategies to help strengthen the natural family, the economy and civil society.
The coming event will be held at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney and will be the first WCF held in the Southern Hemisphere. For those wishing to attend you are able to receive a 20% discount on the advertised registration fee by quoting the following special codes. For your own registration quote WCF01 and for your spouse WCF0S for 20% off each registration fee. (Please note the codes use a zero, not a capital ‘o’) Further information can be found on the Congress website at http://www.wcfsydney2013.org.au/.
Source: World Congress of Families