Drafting error in abortion bill

The “Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 – which decriminalises abortion in NSW – has a drafting error in it, according to Freedom For Faith‘s Michael Kellahan.

The drafting error makes the “conscientious objection” provision in the bill much less effective, despite being designed to protect medical practitioners who do not wish to be involved in abortion.

“We can only assume this absurd result is a drafting error and does not reflect the intent of the movers.” – Freedom for Faith

The effect is that the protection is not operative where the pregnant woman herself asks for a termination of the pregnancy.

Section 9 – “Registered health practitioner with conscientious objection” – of the amended bill sets out that it applies if “(a) a person, the first person asked a registered health practitioner to – (i) perform a termination on another person……”

According to Freedom for Faith: “As drafted, the section thus distinguishes between ‘the first person’ (who makes a request), the ‘registered health practitioner’ (who is requested to do something) and ‘another person’ (who must be neither of the first two mentioned), upon whom the termination of the pregnancy is to be performed.”

“The bill will therefore only allow for conscientious objection where someone other than the pregnant woman has asked for the termination to be performed.

“We can only assume this absurd result is a drafting error and does not reflect the intent of the movers.”

The conscientious objection clause amendment (which has been accepted) is intended to ease the pressure on medical practitioners who don’t wish to be involved in an abortion.

Instead of being forced to refer someone seeking a termination to another doctor, they can simply “give information to the person on how to locate or contact a medical practitioner who, in the first practitioner’s reasonable belief, does not have a conscientious objection to the performance of the termination”.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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