September 13th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY / EDITORIAL: How America's choice will affect Australia

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Rudd's threat to close non-performing schools

FOREIGN INVESTMENT: Stronger rules needed on foreign investment

AGRICULTURE: High stakes in federal quarantine inquiry

EDUCATION: Reflections on home-schooling

UNITED NATIONS: Australia should not sign UN women's rights protocol

VICTORIA: Victoria battles over so-called 'right to kill'

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Bid to tax churches out of existence?

ADVERTISING: Protests force removal of offensive billboards

CHINA: How China topped the Olympic gold medal tally

UNITED STATES: Michelle Obama's separationist view of race

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Migration debate revisited / Migrating on the SS Urea (1970) / 2008 postscript

Mandated medical malpractice (letter)

BOOKS: ON BURCHETT, by Tibor Méray, Tibor Meray

BOOKS: THE ISRAEL LOBBY and US Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt

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Mandated medical malpractice (letter)

by Charles Francis, AM, QC, RFD

News Weekly, September 13, 2008


Clause 8 of Victoria's Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008, requiring all medical practitioners to refer women for abortion, not only seeks to violate the consciences of doctors who value the sanctity of human life but may also involve them in what amounts to medical malpractice.

Assume a country town has two doctors. Dr A refuses to perform abortions, is well informed of the medical risks and warns his patients of those risks. Dr B performs some abortions and is poorly informed of the risks. Dr A knows some of his patients, despite his warnings, have gone to Dr B, who, having assured them Dr A's warnings are "pro-life nonsense", has performed abortions for them.

Miss C, a teenager, approaches Dr A, her family doctor, seeking an abortion. Dr A knows there is a history of breast cancer in her family and that a sibling has psychological problems.

He is aware of the important study by Dr Janet R. Daling and her colleagues ("Risk of breast cancer among young women: relationship to induced abortion", Journal of the National Cancer Institute (University of Washington), 86(21), November 1994, pp.1584-92), and knows it is highly likely that Miss C will develop breast cancer before she is 45 and that she is also in a high-risk category for psychological damage.

Dr B is the only doctor whom Dr A knows performs abortions, and Dr B will probably perform an abortion for Miss C, with subsequent dire medical consequences.

Referring Miss C to Dr B would be gross negligence, but if Dr A refuses to do so he is in breach of Clause 8 of the Victorian bill.

Charles Francis, AM, QC, RFD,
Toorak, Vic.

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