The Catholic sector will be exempt from federal Labor’s plans to tie hospital funding to the provision of abortion services. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
It comes as Labor walked back from its “expectation” that all public hospitals be consistently required to offer access to abortions to qualify for federal money under a renewed funding agreement.
Announcing the opposition’s new women’s health policy on Wednesday, health spokeswoman Catherine King and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said a new funding agreement between a Labor government and the states and territories would “expect that termination services will be provided consistently in public hospitals”.
“This is critical to end the patchwork of service provision in Australia,” a joint statement said.
However, a spokesman for Ms King said yesterday “obviously” this would not be possible in every hospital, and the plan was about “working with states and territories to achieve legal, safe, affordable and accessible reproductive health services for women”.
“Obviously not every hospital provides every medical procedure – for example, not every hospital does brain surgery or heart surgery. That’s the same for terminations,” he said.
On Wednesday, Ms King’s office phoned leaders from the Catholic health sector to assure them that a Labor government would not withhold funding from Catholic hospitals refusing to perform terminations on religious grounds.
Suzanne Greenwood, chief executive of Catholic Health Australia, said while the details of Labor’s policy remained unclear, the Catholic sector would never support abortion services.
“The deliberate killing of that innocent person in those early stages of life is not something we can participate in,” she said.
About one quarter of Australian women will access an abortion service across their reproductive lives, according to abortion provider Marie Stopes Australia. It also estimates between 0 and 10 per cent of abortion services are provided by public hospitals, depending on the state.
Catholics win exemption in ALP plan to link hospital funding, abortion (Sydney Morning Herald)