I rise to speak on the Health Legislation Amendment (Conscientious Objection) Bill 2022. I will be supporting this bill today because I believe that public health care that is fully funded by the taxpayer should offer the full suite of public health services to those in need. Unfortunately, as it stands, publicly funded denominational hospitals are allowed to deny voluntary assisted dying services and women the right to contraception and abortion. What this has meant is that women who may be taken in an emergency situation to one of these hospitals may not be allowed the pill, even when it is their regular medicine prescribed by their doctor. Most Australian women—in fact 81 per cent of women of reproductive age—choose to use some form of birth control. What this tells me is that the policy of these denominational hospitals does not align with the majority of Australians’ views today.
This is a public hospital. Patients do not always receive a choice in their provider, yet they are taken to hospitals which do not provide the health care they may require.
This bill is not about the right of doctors to conscientiously object. This right is maintained. It is about the policy of these public hospitals. Doctors who want to offer choice are being denied this choice. It is my understanding that there are nurses and doctors in these hospitals who would like to offer family planning but are unable to because of hospital policy. If these hospitals want to be publicly funded by the taxpayer, they must offer the full range of health services. The right of the doctor to refuse on the basis of conscientious objection is not affected. I will commend this bill to the house.