11 March 2009


The CEO of Catholic Health Australia Martin Laverty has indicated that his legal advice suggests the recently passed Victorian State legislation requiring conscientiously objecting doctors to provide abortion referrals is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty ratified by Australia and overseen by the United Nations.

Mr Laverty said staff at the state's 15 Catholic hospitals would not be expected to take any part in the abortion process, including referring women to other doctors, and Catholic Health was ready to challenge the law in court if anyone were to be prosecuted for refusing to provide a referral.

Whilst United Nations Conventions have no power to override national laws, under the Australian constitution, the Commonwealth has the power to invalidate state law if it breaches international treaties to which Australia is a party.

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