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Contention over conscientious objection

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Dear Editor

In our column this month, AMSA has shared medical students’ opinion on the topical issue of conscientious objection. We note that the AMA has written about it, too, specifically in regards to the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013 in Tasmania (‘Abortion law must respect dictates of conscience’, August 12).

The AMA asserted that, “Under the proposed law, failure to [refer] would constitute a criminal offence.” A scary prospect, but AMSA has examined the clause notes accompanying the Bill, and we quote: “Failure to [refer] may result in professional sanctions for medical practitioners, while counsellors face a maximum fine of 250 penalty units [$32,500].

“The different consequences for non-compliance reflect that, unlike medical practitioners, counsellors are not regulated by professional boards established under national laws for regulating health practitioners.”

That is, for doctors, the Bill actually prescribes no penalty at all, which we hope brings the AMA some relief.

Benjamin Veness


Australian Medical Students’ Association