Catholic bioethics and legal experts have told a Senate committee that children born alive after an abortion should be granted legal protections. Source: Catholic Weekly.
Health practitioners are not required by law to provide medical or palliative care or treatment to a child who survives an abortion.
Senators Matthew Canavan and Alex Antic introduced a bill to federal Parliament last November to protect such newborns, following the defeat of a similar push by former MP George Christensen earlier in the year.
The bill would require a child born alive after an abortion to be given the same medical treatment or palliative care as a newborn.
Health practitioners who neglected to do so would be prosecuted, but a woman whose child was left to die unaided after an abortion would not be held liable.
It would also make health practitioners responsible for reporting births of children born alive as a result of terminations.
“This bill requires what ought to be something straightforward,” Bernadette Tobin, director of the Australian Catholic University’s Plunkett Centre for Ethics, wrote in her submission to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s inquiry.
“It reminds the community that, at law, children born alive in whatever circumstances (including after attempts at termination) are human beings and thus that healthcare practitioners have the same duty of care to these children as they do to anyone else requiring emergency medical care,” Dr Tobin said.
Adelaide legal academic Joanna Howe and Johnny Sakr, an adjunct lecturer for the School of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia, were also invited to appear at a public hearing of the committee in Parliament House on June 8.
Dr Howe explained in her written submission that despite reporting requirements varying between states and territories, information gleaned from coroners’ reports and the media showed that 328 children were born alive post-abortion in Queensland and 396 children in Victoria over the 10 years from 2010 to 2020.
Dr Sakr said the bill is needed to address a gap in Australia’s laws which effectively allows for the “unlawful homicide” of children born alive as the result of an abortion.
The Community Affairs Legislation Committee is due to report back to parliament on July 1.
Catholic bioethicists call for legal protections for aborted children born alive (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)