AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER – 24th July 2013

  • TASMANIAN UPPER HOUSE PASSES HOMOSEXUAL ADOPTION BILL
  • ABORTION DRUG RU486 AMONG NEW DRUGS TO BE ADDED TO PBS
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UNDERMINES PROTECTIONS FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

     

TASMANIAN UPPER HOUE PASSES HOMOSEXUAL ADOPTION BILL

Gay couples in Tasmania will be able to adopt children after the state’s Upper House backed a changed to the law late last month. Under the new law, couples who have a relationship registered under the Relationships Act can adopt children not known to them. The bill received the support of all but three MPs, with independents Ivan Dean, Rosemary Armitage and Liberal Leonie Hiscutt opposing it. The Government’s only Upper House MP, Craig Farrell, told Parliament the change removes unfair discrimination against gay parents. “This bill doesn’t say same-sex couples are to be considered over any others,” Mr Farrell said.

“It gives them the ability to apply, and it is then up to the authorities to say what is in the best interests of the child. It is really a pretty straightforward piece of legislation” Mr Farrell said. Liberal Independent MP Tony Mulder said the change makes adoption fairer for parents and children. “I do not see that it will have a detrimental effect on children”  Independent MP Ivan Dean disagreed saying children had a right to start life with a mother and father. Leonie Hiscutt also opposed the bill. “I can’t see the need for this change. I think that children are well-served with the existing arrangements.”

The law had previously passed through the House of Assembly in April after the Liberal party allowed a conscience vote on the issue. Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome has applauded the law change. Mr Croome says the change shows Tasmania has come full circle, after being the last Australian state to decriminalise homosexuality during the 1990s. He says the change will allow foster children to be adopted by same-sex couples when judged to be in the child’s best interest. “This is a proud day for Tasmania, for we have removed the very last vestige of discrimination against same-sex couples in existing state law.” 

The Save Marriage Coalition, which opposes the bill, has criticised the law for being too adult-focussed. The organisation’s spokesman Guy Barnett says “the bill will relegate some Tasmanian children to a life without mothers or a life without fathers”. Mr Barnett says the law is a step towards marriage rights for homosexual couples. “In some ways it does send a message that the legislators are considering the merit of same-sex marriage but that is also another debate for another day and I hope the silent majority in the community will express their views accordingly,” he said. 

Source: Compiled by APN from media sources

 

ABORTION DRUG RU486 AMONG NEW DRUGS TO BE ADDED TO PBS

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says drugs to treat skin cancer, as well as the controversial abortion pill RU486, will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).  She said the taxpayer-funded PBS would also include a drug to treat prostate cancer and a new generation oral anticoagulant medicine for the prevention of strokes. Speaking only briefly on the abortion medication, Ms Plibersek said Australian women have had limited access to the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in combination to terminate a pregnancy of up to seven weeks gestation. 

In the cold and clinical approach with which the proponents of abortion approach the issue Ms Plibersek said that scores of millions of women in more than 40 countries have had access to the abortion drugs for several years. She went on to say that the expansion of medical terminations would be particularly important to women living in rural and regional Australia, who have had to travel long distances and be away from family and friends to undergo abortions.” The fact that it is also a life and death issue for the babies that will be aborted using RU486 seems to escape those favouring easier access to the drug. 

Cancer drugs due for inclusion on the PBS from August offer new hope for patients who previously could not afford the costly treatments, The addition of the drugs to the PBS, will cost taxpayers $430 million over the next four years. “The exciting thing about the new cancer treatments is that they will extend the life of patients with melanoma, prostate and breast cancer,” Ms Plibersek said. “If we didn’t subsidise these medicines through the PBS they would be out of the reach of most Australians.” The government will also put up $450 million over the coming four years to have the anti-stroke medication rivaroxaban also included in PBS.

Source: Compiled by APN from media sources

 

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UNDERMINES PROTECTIONS FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The last week of the Parliamentary term saw a bill quietly passed that has big implications for freedom of religion in the future. Called the  Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status Bill 2013, it removes religious exemptions for Commonwealth aged-care providers to preference a married couple over an unmarried couple or a heterosexual over a homosexual resident. Some aged care facilities run by faith organisations treasure their ethos and want to be free to preserve this. The so-called “exemptions” in law were put their decades ago to balance society’s desire to eliminate unjustified discrimination but at the same time protect religious freedom. 

Commenting on the passing of the legislation in the House of Representatives, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC said “The Government is proud to have passed this historic Bill, which is an important step towards equality for all Australians, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.” However, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) questions why this legislation was pursued when no examples of actual discrimination have actually been put forward. ACL understands it’s the practice of many faith-based aged-care providers to help and look after elderly people regardless of their sexuality. 

The legislation sets up a precedent for other religious exemptions to be challenged in the future. If Commonwealth-funded faith-based aged care providers lose the right to positively select clients in accordance with the principles of their faith, other faith-based organisations could similarly lose their religious freedom? Christian schools, for example, may not be able to hire staff who adhere to the values of the organisation?  The Coalition is to be applauded for opposing the amendment which challenged the principle of religious freedom which is a fundamental human right, protected under international human rights law.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby