Tasmania's Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Act 2013: An Analysis of Conscientious Objection to Abortion and the 'Obligation to Refer'
22 Journal of Law and Medicine, 2015 pp 900-914
15 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2015 Last revised: 6 Aug 2015
Date Written: April 1, 2015
This article focuses on Tasmania’s Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Act 2013, which decriminalises abortion in that State. Part I of this article provides an overview of the Tasmanian legislation, comparing it with Victoria’s Abortion Law Reform Act 2008. Part II then shifts its focus to a more in-depth analysis of a doctor’s right to “conscientious objection” and the requirement in both Acts of an “obligation to refer”. The article concludes that ultimately, as a democratic society it is important that we respect both a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy and a doctor’s right to freedom of conscience. Where these rights conflict, as is the case when a doctor with a conscientious objection to abortion is confronted with a patient who seeks information about abortion, they must be balanced. The Victorian and Tasmanian Acts represent a considered and reasonable approach to balancing the rights at issue.
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