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Patrick Parkinson (Publica)

Freedom of conscience in the practice of medicine was the focus of a talk in Hobart hosted by the Catholic Medical Association of Tasmania. Source: Hobart Archdiocese.

Tasmanian medical professionals gathered on November 18 for the talk by Patrick Parkinson, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Queensland.

Dr Parkinson said freedom of conscience was well established as a human right, referencing the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

He added that in Australian law, the protection of freedom of conscience was “dismal”, with Tasmania being an exception.

“We have in Tasmania, believe it or not, a provision in our state constitution, which says freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are subject to public order and morality guaranteed to every citizen,” Dr Parkinson said.

“It’s the only state in the country which has a provision around freedom of conscience and freedom of religion in its state constitution.

“Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are guaranteed to every citizen.”

Within the practice of medicine however, Dr Parkinson said there were few laws that protected freedom of conscience.

“Within the medical area, well, you do not have to participate in an abortion, and you do not have to give the full range of options to a woman who is pregnant as to what she should do.

“But you do have to refer out to somebody who will give that advice. And in Tasmania there’s a 2013 law which says that.”

Dr Parkinson highlighted the need for medical practitioners who share the same values to be united, especially in Tasmania.

“We are in a fight and there is a need for us as Christians to be engaged politically, to be taking the battle to politicians and saying, ‘You say you stand for human rights. You’ve got to stand for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience as well’.”


Catholic Medical Association event puts freedom of conscience in the spotlight (Hobart Archdiocese)