Conscientious objection to abortion, the law and its implementation in Victoria, Australia: perspectives of abortion service providers

Keogh, Louise Anne, Gillam, Lynn, Bismark, Marie, McNamee, Kathleen, Webster, Amy, Bayly, Christine and Newton, Danielle 2019, Conscientious objection to abortion, the law and its implementation in Victoria, Australia: perspectives of abortion service providers, BMC medical ethics, vol. 20, pp. 1-10, doi: 10.1186/s12910-019-0346-1.

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Title Conscientious objection to abortion, the law and its implementation in Victoria, Australia: perspectives of abortion service providers
Author(s) Keogh, Louise Anne
Gillam, Lynn
Bismark, Marie
McNamee, Kathleen
Webster, Amy
Bayly, Christine
Newton, DanielleORCID iD for Newton, Danielle orcid.org/0000-0002-8177-8847
Journal name BMC medical ethics
Volume number 20
Article ID 11
Start page 1
End page 10
Total pages 10
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2019-01-31
ISSN 1472-6939
Keyword(s) Abortion
Conscientious objection
Health services
Law reform
Qualitative methods
Regulation
Summary BACKGROUND: In Victoria, Australia, the law regulating abortion was reformed in 2008, and a clause ('Section 8') was introduced requiring doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer women to another provider. This study reports the views of abortion experts on the operation of Section 8 of the Abortion Law Reform Act in Victoria. METHODS: Nineteen semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with purposively selected Victorian abortion experts in 2015. Interviews explored the impact of abortion law reform on service provision, including the understanding and implementation of Section 8. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. RESULTS: The majority of participants described Section 8 as a mechanism to protect women's right to abortion, rather than a mechanism to protect doctors' rights. All agreed that most doctors would not let moral or religious beliefs impact on their patients, and yet all could detail negative experiences related to Section 8. The negative experiences arose because doctors had: directly contravened the law by not referring; attempted to make women feel guilty; attempted to delay women's access; or claimed an objection for reasons other than conscience. Use or misuse of conscientious objection by Government telephone staff, pharmacists, institutions, and political groups was also reported. CONCLUSION: Some doctors are not complying with Section 8, with adverse effects on access to care for some women. Further research is needed to inform strategies for improving compliance with the law in order to facilitate timely access to abortion services.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/s12910-019-0346-1
Field of Research 2201 Applied Ethics
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2019, The Author(s)
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30119029

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