In Good Conscience?

My interest was piqued yesterday by a Twitter exchange between bioethicist Leslie Cannold and sceptic, Ken Dally (aka Cowcakes).

Leslie Cannold:  Vic Doctors who will let u or a woman u love die rather than follow law & offer life-saving abortion http://t.co/9NeIqfrl

Cowcakes: @LeslieCannold: So many declarations of not being religious it makes one think they protest too much. http://t.co/YFkP0bRV

The website they refer to is  Liberty of Conscience in Medicine – A Declaration; effectively a petition asserting the right of doctors to refuse to offer certain treatments (e.g. abortion, euthanasia)  even if they are legal.

Now, I’m happy to concede there are compelling arguments both for and against this proposition (do you really want a rabidly anti-abortion doctor performing your abortion?), but this is not the issue that particularly concerns me about the Liberty of Conscience in Medicine declaration.

Rather, it is the matter alluded to in Ken Dally’s tweet:

“So many declarations of not being religious it makes one think they protest too much.” 

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on the anti-euthanasia lobby lately and I’ve been surprised to find that many organisations that declare themselves to be ‘secular’ or ‘non religious’ are clearly ‘playing possum’.  It seems to me a rather ‘un-Christian’ thing to do, really.

Take the Discovery Institute, for example. Although it often describes itself as a secular organization, its activities, sponsors and target audience are explicitly Christian. Americans United for Separation of Church and State believes, “the group’s real purpose is to undercut church-state separation and turn public schools into religious indoctrination centers.”

The judge in the 2005 “Dover Trial”, agreed, noting that a close examination of the Discovery Institute’s infamous “Wedge Document” revealed the Institute’s religious (as opposed to scientific) goals.

So, I wondered, could the Liberty of Conscience declaration be another of these religious ‘sleeper’ organisations?  I decided to find out.

The FAQ section of the Liberty in Conscience website specifically states that the declaration is not connected with religion or religious beliefs:

There is no religious or faith component to the declaration of conscience in medicine.

The ‘sponsoring organisation’ ,  Medicine with Morality  is “also not religious”.

So who is behind this secular push for doctors to be able to refuse those treatments which are so often the concern of the religiously motivated?  The FAQ’s provide the answer:

Lachlan Dunjey, a GP in Perth Western Australia since 1968, known to be passionate about such things – passionate about medicine, passionate about the future of medicine and wanting to protect the “traditional” doctor/patient relationship from the things that are threatening it.”

Strangely, it doesn’t mention that Lachlan Dunjey was Western Australia’s Christian Democratic Party candidate for the senate in 2004, along with co-signatory Dr Norman Gage.   At a safe distance from his ‘secular’ websites, Dunjey describes himself as ‘a church musician of 40+ years, as a doctor, and as a church elder’ and signs off as: Lachlan Dunjey,  Morley Baptist Church, West Australia. In fact, Dr Dunjey is not just an ordinary Baptist church-goer, he is a former president of the Baptist Churches of Western Australia.  But, of course, in his capacity as an anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia campaigner, he is entirely non-religious!

My suspicions aroused, I wondered whether, as implied in the FAQs,  the doctors who signed off on Dunjey’s ‘secular’ declaration were similarly ‘non-religious’.  With a few hours to spare I decided to do some judicious googling of the signatories.

It didn’t take long to find that signatory, Dr Michael Shanahan has served as both president and secretary of the Catholic Doctors Association of Western Australia. Similarly, Dr Terrence Kent is a former president of the Catholic Medical Guild of St Luke and Dr Elvis Seman appears to be a member.

So what’s this Guild of St Luke all about?  Dr Lucia Migliore explains:

“As Catholic doctors, we should be foremost inviting Christ into our work, which completely changes the nature of what you are doing.”  

No doubt.

Another signatory, Dr Jovina Graham, was involved in planning iWitness, a religious retreat designed to ‘recapture the spirit’ of Catholic World Youth Day. The focus of iWitness was “on enriching the participants’ spiritual lives through a deepened relationship with Our Lord.”

As I kept researching the Catholic connections just kept on coming.  Signatory, Dr Mary Walsh, is married to Catholic “knight” and bio-ethicist, Nicholas Tonti Fillipini. Dr Phillip Elias is assistant dean at the Opus Dei affiliated Warrane College at the University of New South Wales, while Dr Albert Matti is involved with the Melkite Catholic Eparchy in South Australia.

Liberty of Conscience supporter, Dr Alan Donoghue lays out his beliefs in The Dominion Post , intoning that the Catholic Church condones neither sex before marriage, nor divorce.  And, of course, you must raise your children as Catholics!

Dr Graeme Cumming, who is oft seen commenting on Bill Muehlenberg’s blog, was a Family First candidate for the Queensland seat of Fisher in the 2007 federal election.

“Christians”, says Dr Cumming, “do have and must take up the responsibility (not the “right”) to proclaim God’s law”.  Yes, Dr Cumming, but it would be nice if you’d specify when you’re speaking from a religious, rather than a scientific perspective.

Dr Lucas (Luke) McLindon also seems to be a Muehlenberg fan, pointing out in one comment that, “As a committed Catholic, at the end of the day, my loyalties must lie with Scripture first and foremost …”  I’m sorry, Dr McLindon, but as a patient I’d rather hope your loyalty was first and foremost to me.

But, if the Liberty of Conscience declaration isn’t quite as ‘secular’ as the FAQs suggest, it is certainly ecumenical.  Dr Thalia Shuttleworth is a facilitator at the Sydney Life Church and, apparently, participates in ‘miracle’ healing sessions.(I wonder if that’s covered by Medicare?)

Dr Robert Pollnitz is the chairman of the Lutheran Church of Australia Commission on Social & Bioethcial Questions – not too sure how he would feel about ‘miracles and wonders’.

Dr Rosemary Wong, says her mission as an executive member of the Church of Christ’s Counsel@CrossCulture  “is to bring Christ’s healing to the wounded in our families and communities, so that they may become the persons God has created them to be”.  Pity if you really just wanted a few stitches.

Dr Graham Toohill, an Anglican from Gippsland, is a ‘vocational deacon’, apparently ‘chosen by God’ for a lifetime of service. Dr Toohill “offers time each week to the parish in pastoral care and outreach.”

Dr Robert Claxton is a Sydney Anglican who worked as a medical missionary in Uganda.  He is a board member of African Enterprise a Christian Mission ministry committed to evangelising the cities of Africa (apparently whether they like it or not).

Another signatory with missionary credentials is Dr Richard Shawyer  a ‘church planter’ who served as a Bible teaching missionary in Senegal with Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ. Similarly committed to mission work is Dr Rebecca Zachariah who worked with Lutheran Aid to Medicine in Bangladesh.

As my eyes grew dim and the night grew cold, I read that signatory, Dr Jeremy Beckett, is “avidly involved in student ministry with Christian medical and dental students in Perth” and, like Dr Margaret Payne , he works with the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia. Jeremy’s speciality is the “interface between Christian faith and clinical practice”. His aim; to minister the love of Christ to broken people. Ah yes, the broken – so delightfully vulnerable.

Dr Beckett probably knows Dr Sally Tsang. Also a member of the CMDFA, Dr Tsang runs Hospital Link which helps to “connect you to fellow believers for refreshing fellowship and prayer right where the mission field (and stress) is!”  I wonder how many patients at Dr Tsang’s hospital realise they’ve been admitted to a ‘mission field’?

Another CMDFA signatory is Dr Natasha Yates. In her student days, Dr Yates acted as the medical student bible study leader at ANU.

And where was declaration signatory, Dr Tyler Schofield on Sunday, 9 October 2011? I found him asking the congregation of the Alice Springs Baptist Church to turn to their Bibles for a reading from Revelations.  Perhaps he should confer with Dr Nell Muirden who’s been involved writing Bible Studies for the Assembly of Confessing Congregations – a group of Uniting Church dissenters. Or maybe a chat with Dr Andrew Bradbeer who I found busily memorising the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

Dr Bradbeer might find he has a lot in common with Dr Mathew Piercy who has written for Creation Ministries on the subject  “Life is a gift from God”.  Isn’t this turning out to be a lovely little coterie of like-minded doctors?

And, as the night turned to morning, and my googling fingers continued their work, more and more came to light. Dr Gabriel James aims to “serve God” by facilitating the 40 Days for Life vigil at Westmead Hospital – all welcome providing they “conduct themselves in a Christ-like manner”.

If that all sounds too ‘kumbaya’ for you, try signatory Dr Arthur Hartwig for a little ‘old school’ religion. In the fundamentalist Christian Saltshakers magazine, Dr Hartwig complains that “Sin has been sanitised, euphemised, relativised, trivialised, corporatised, minimised, even decriminalised.”  Ah, bring back those good old days when we stoned homosexuals, eh, Dr Hartwig?

Dr. Theresa Ong has a Grad Dip in Christian Counselling. Dr Nathan Grills has written about the ‘faith effect’ in treating HIV/AIDs and ….   well, I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

In all I found nearly 70 of the doctors who signed the Liberty of Conscience declaration had clear links to Christian organisations.  Of course, not everyone has their religious credentials plastered on the internet for all to see – I was never going to ‘unmask’ everyone.  But, even though it might be argued I didn’t find Christian credentials for nearly half the signatories, I challenge those who have no religious affiliation or belief to step forward and declare themselves.  I don’t think I’ll be deafened by the response!

Now, I’m not a Christian. I’m avowedly and publicly an atheist. But, I have a very strong ethical code and an incredible aversion to lying and deception.  If an organisation tells me they’re ‘not religious’ I expect when I look at its members I will find a pretty good sprinkling of them who are ‘not religious’.  I would also expect that religious dogma is not the driving force and influence underpinning the mission (pun intended) of the group in question.

I may not agree with them, but I have no objection to Christians stating their arguments in the public square.  I do object, however, when their religious bias is not declared.  No politician is going to spend the hours I spent last night googling the credentials of these doctors on a site which explicitly states it has ‘no religious or faith component’. And politicians should know whether the views being put to them are coloured by a hidden religious agenda.

The water of the Liberty of Conscience in Medicine declaration is so muddied with religious belief you could walk on it. And, it seems, there is such an intermingling of these avowedly Christian and avowedly secular ‘pro-life’ and lobbying organisations they even get muddled themselves!  Take this telling exchange from the Review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 [document file]:

Dr Chris FRENCH — Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to address you regarding our concerns. We have Doctors in Conscience here but the actual proposal was from the Catholic Doctors Association of Victoria, so I will speak on behalf of Catholic Doctors Association of Victoria in this submission. That was Eamonn’s original proposal.

… The Catholic Doctors Association of Victoria gives its total and complete support for the measures to strengthen and clarify human rights. This is a major purpose of this association, linked as it is with a long tradition of preferential care for the disadvantaged of Catholic‑inspired organisations. The association and I personally give full and total support to the sentiments expressed in the preamble of the charter.

The CHAIR — Dr French, I do not mean to interrupt you but the committee was of the understanding that you were representing Doctors in Conscience.

Dr FRENCH — Yes, I must say it did occur to me as I was walking in the front door that the address to Eamonn was Doctors in Conscience. I had understood that this was the Catholic Doctors Association of Victoria. Do you have that in front of you?

The CHAIR — The submission we have is from Dr Eamonn Mathieson.

Ms CAMPBELL — Who is speaking to Eamonn Mathieson’s submission?

Dr FRENCH — I was going to speak to Eamonn’s submission. May I to see your copy?

Ms CAMPBELL — Because Doctors in Conscience is definitely not a Catholic organisation.

Dr FRENCH — Yes, indeed. That’s fine — —

Ms CAMPBELL — It has Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and non‑religious people involved in it, and that was who we invited.

Dr FRENCH— Okay. In that case — —

Ms CAMPBELL — So we need someone who can speak on Doctors in Conscience.

Dr FRENCH — I can briefly speak on behalf of them. I am a member of that group and I have been working to this particular document so I am prepared. I can speak on behalf of it.

Ms CAMPBELL — But you are also a member of Catholic doctors of Victoria?

Dr FRENCH — Yes, I am, as it happens. So I can speak on behalf of Doctors in Conscience. I am a member of both organisations and I have actually prepared my proposal based on this document that has been given to you.

The CHAIR — On the submission of Doctors in Conscience?

Dr FRENCH — Yes.

The CHAIR — Okay. And the opening remarks you were making are consistent with the submission of Doctors in Conscience?

Dr FRENCH — Yes.

Oh dear!  It’s so hard when you simply can’t remember whether to wear your Catholic camauro or your secular slouch hat when fronting up to these inquiries!

If Christians want to have their voices respected in the public square it’s time to stop these ridiculous games of religious hide ‘n seek.  If your views are based on your religious convictions, at least have the honesty and courage to say so.  If you can support your religious convictions with reasonable secular argument based on evidence and good science, by all means do so.  But, for Christ’s sake (literally) have the decency to make it clear that even if every bit of evidence supported the opposite view, you would still oppose the proposition purely on religious grounds.  After all, you wouldn’t want us to think that Christians cynically conceal their dogmatic beliefs in secular clothing and try to pass them off as ‘science’.  That wouldn’t be acting in good conscience at all, would it?

Chrys Stevenson

68 thoughts on “In Good Conscience?

  1. Ken Dally

    Hi Chrys, when you advised me to stay tuned I had no idea that my suspicions would be so resoundingly confirmed.

    Sorry for instigating the lost sleep😉

    Reply
  2. Bryan Milner

    Chrys, Well said. As an active member of the pro euthanasia movement for over 10 years,I have oscillated between amusement and frustration at the shameless deception practised by people who are supposed to have superior morals. The arguments advanced are rarely religious based probably because they mean nothing to those who do not take things on “faith”. Another source of amusement is their insistence that God is the one who decides the timing of ones life’s end. And yet they are equally insistent that it is OK,indeed advisable to prolong life with all sorts of medical intervention.

    Reply
  3. cushla geary

    Oh well feretted!
    And I must say, I agree with everything you’ve written here – in there is something particularly distasteful about proclaiming one’s religious faith out of one side of one’s mouth, while denying it out of the other!

    Reply
  4. Oolon Colluphid

    Justin: agreed. It’s pathetically obvious that if you’re unwilling to do your job, you have a right not to do it; but your employer then has a responsibility to fire you. Anyone who is unwilling to accept the rules of the medical profession has no right to be a medical professional.

    Reply
  5. Ken Wood

    Yeah I did the research too. Dr. Dunjey is a liar when he claims to be secular. It’s fkn disgusting how low christian doctors stink, while claiming to be ethical.

    Reply
  6. Annie

    May there be a time in the future when Doctors must be compelled to declare their ‘allegiance’ before taking you as a patient.
    Thank you Chrys for yet another important, well formed and clearly argued piece that expresses my ideas.
    A few years ago when my children were still in high school I heard of how some of the female students could not obtain a safe abortion in our nearby ‘city’. None of the doctors would perform the procedure so they had to travel as far away as Tweed Heads to obtain the necessary help. This was pre RU486. When that finally went through one of my daughters rang me from school and said she would not be on the bus from school as she was attending a local GP to obtain the ‘morning after pill’. The girl was distressed and beside herself…’her mother would kill her’…so my daughter took her to the doctors in town who was one of the only ones who bulk billed so she could be helped.

    I shall never forget that in the 1990’s-2002 young girls could not easily obtain legal abortions nor could happily be aware of the choices of medical help.

    I later asked a nurse I knew why there were no abortions preformed locally. She said it was not only the doctors but that the chief theatre nurse refused to be involved in the abortion procedure so was holding the young female population of an area of 80,000 people to ransom.

    Thanks again for this. You are a gem.

    Reply
  7. Phil Browne

    I take my hat off to you Chrys for all your research. Disappointing but not surprising to see these links. As for the doctors representing and lying about their organisations … hardly “Christian” in my book.

    Reply
  8. Louella H

    Thanks for burning the midnight oil to enlighten us. What a great expose. Their subterfuge is very concerning.
    On the plus side, it’s nice to have a list of doctors to avoid.

    Reply
  9. CrazyHorse

    Dr Chris FRENCH — “Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to address you regarding our concerns. We have Doctors in Conscience here but the actual proposal was from the Catholic Doctors Association of Victoria, so I will speak on behalf of Catholic Doctors Association of Victoria in this submission. That was Eamonn’s original proposal.

    “… The Catholic Doctors Association of Victoria gives its total and complete support … ”

    [snip]

    The CHAIR — ‘The submission we have is from Dr Eamonn Mathieson.”

    Ms CAMPBELL — “Who is speaking to Eamonn Mathieson’s submission?”

    Dr FRENCH — ‘I was going to speak to Eamonn’s submission. May I to see your copy?”

    [snip]

    The CHAIR — ” … the opening remarks you were making are consistent with the submission of Doctors in Conscience?”

    Dr FRENCH — “Yes.”

    Give an extra dimension to the phrase “Holy Fuck”, doesn’t it?!

    Reply
    1. CrazyHorse

      *Gives* an extra dimension to the phrase “Holy Fuck”, doesn’t it?!

      These Christians are flouting one of their beloved ‘commandments’ about “false witness” (No 9). Fucking Hypocrites! Totally “anti-Hypocratic”!

      Chrys, if you can edit, please put Good or Good Conscience in inverted commas or quotation marks to suitably express irony – “Good” Conscience or “Good Conscience”. It really is too much!

      Holey (sic) “holy” fucking hypocrites!

      Reply
  10. Martin

    I know (as in, worked with) some of the folks who signed that declaration. There was no doubt in my mind that these are fine upstanding Christians working for the interests of their imaginary friends, and not so much that of their patients. Nice work in digging it up.

    Reply
  11. Jayel

    Hi Chrys
    What a very revealing article.

    But why is “But” the linking word in these sentences?”

    “Now, I’m not a Christian. I’m avowedly and publicly an atheist. But, I have a very strong ethical code and an incredible aversion to lying and deception.”

    How about:
    “Now, I’m not a Christian. I’m avowedly and publicly an atheist, and I have a very strong ethical code and an incredible aversion to lying and deception.”

    Sorry to be picky, but I think you do yourself a great disservice otherwise.🙂

    Reply
  12. Pingback: Australia: ‘Undercover’ Christians behind ‘secular’ opposition to abortion | Religious Atrocities

    1. rlwemm

      A very good point. There is so much research work coming up with stuff that supports the notion that staunch atheists are generally MORE ethical and humanitarian than staunch Christians.

      Reply
  13. sflyons

    Brilliant. Great work.

    “The cock crew a third time,” etc.

    The 2 part doco on the Dover trial was repeated just last week on SBS. I highly recommend it. The Discovery Institute is a thoroughly bogus organisation.

    Also: Elvis Semen?

    Reply
    1. rlwemm

      Unfortunately it is real enough. It is just not interested in discovering actual truth, only ways of distorting and warping reality so that it appears to support preconceived notions about actuality that are very firmly based on uncritically accepted religious doctrine. Sheeesh.

      Reply
  14. Tanya

    I see this as nothing but bashing Christians once again. It appears to me that the world is happy to be open to any religion and opens it’s arms to diversity except when it involves Christianity. Did it not ever occur to you morally superior people that perhaps these doctors are not going in as a solely Christian group because then they would never even get looked at or listened to. Did it not ever occur to you that people who are Christians can have an opinion on something and put the religious implications of that aside and speak to that matter from a logical medical view point. Did it ever occur to you that these people do feel strongly about this issue and they know of other non-religious doctors who also feel that way so why band together as numbers are often what make the difference in whether one is heard or not. Why does it outrage you that doctors have a right to refuse to perform or prescribe procedures/medicine which goes against their moral beliefs? Why is that people don’t bat an eyelid at a Muslim/Buddist/Islamist etc refusing to do things that are against their beliefs but Christians are not afforded this right? Aren’t you using this article simply to push your athiest ‘anti-Christian’ agenda? Are we really happy to be going down a path where doctors are not able to conscientiously object to perform or prescribe medical procedures/prescriptions that they are opposed to? Do you want to go to a doctor who blindly carries out procedures without thought or conscience to the consequences? What if the euthanasia laws change to allow doctors to start killing off patients that are simply a burden on society rather than close to death and untreatable? Or what if the cost of treating them is too high? Is it okay to euthanase then? I for one am happy to live in a society where people have the freedom to object according to their morals and conscience. Look to history and see what happens when people of morals and conscience are stopped from speaking out. This model of euthanasia has happened before and we choose to ignore that, then it was called “the Final Solution” and the world was unaware until it was finally discovered after over 6 million healthy men, women and children were killed. Lachlan Dunjey has a quote he likes to use which goes along the lines of …’all it takes for evil to occur is that good men do nothing.’

    Reply
    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      Tanya, no-one is imposing anything on Christians. Euthanasia, by legal definition, requires consent. Christians will not be forced to choose euthanasia, nor to have an abortion, nor to marry someone of the same sex.

      If you don’t think workers should be forced to do anything against their morals and/or religion, do you believe that Muslim taxi drivers should have the right to refuse airport passengers carrying duty free alcohol? Do you think shop assistants should be able to refuse to sell cigarettes? What if I’m morally opposed to selling hamburgers to fat people – should I take a job at McDonalds and then refuse to serve clients?

      It’s a moot point really, because, in practice Christian doctors aren’t forced to perform abortions or euthanasia against their will. Legalisation may ask them to refer a patient who wants these options to someone else though. That is all.

      I don’t think we ask too much. We ask that you don’t impose your religious views on the rest of us and we ask that Christians should represent themselves honestly in the public square. Christians are currently failing badly in both these areas and your reputations are suffering because of it.

      Reply
      1. Dave

        You raise concerns about the point under the FAQ at the website that you linked to, that says “There is no religious or faith component to the declaration of conscience in medicine.” I agree with your point on some counts – it may be misleading to say that there is “no” religious or faith component – however, there are very strong, serious reasons that a person might agree with the declaration, completely independent of faith.

        Go and read the declaration itself (http://www.conscienceinmedicine.net.au/the-declaration/). What part of this declaration talks about faith and God? Do you think that someone without religious affiliation could agree with those statements? Logically, there is no reason that the declaration has any need to be linked with religion.

        Go again and read your original quotation – “There is no religious or faith component to the declaration of conscience in medicine” – there is nothing wrong with that, now, is there?

        The fact that the signatories happen to be Christian, by and large, highlights the strong moral sense of Christian doctors. Christianity has much to inform the conscience, and when one feels that there is far more at stake than one’s own pride (as in this case), they will gladly bear the name of Christian and speak out for what they think is right and true. I applaud the signatories for being a voice for the voiceless, and standing up for the myriad unborn children that are mercilessly slaughtered in the name of convenience (I am not talking about situations where the life of mother and baby are truly threatened, and where abortion is life-saving – I accept that those circumstances present an exception).

        Briefly, your examples of the Muslim taxi drivers refusing airport passengers carrying alcohol, refusing to sell cigarettes, refusing to sell hamburgers to obese people – though analogous to one another – do not at all form an analogy to refusal to refer!

        I wonder how many of those situations include another life (or potential life, if you prefer to see it that way), completely unable to speak for itself, being terminated! i.e. murder!

        If you want a more suitable analogy – imagine someone with a newborn baby who asks you, “who can I go to in order to get this baby killed?” Would you go and say, “Oh, I know, you can just go around the corner – there’s a guy killing babies around there.” Or would you intervene, and try to prevent this tragedy occurring?

        Oh – and for good measure, I’ll openly declare that I am a Christian. But, I will also say that my views on this subject have not changed because I became a Christian. I felt the same way about abortion beforehand. What has changed, though, is that my willingness to speak out about it has grown that little bit stronger.

      2. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

        Oh dear, you’ve got a bad case of Christian brain-washing, don’t you? OK, I’ll play.

        “children that are mercilessly slaughtered”

        Abortion does not ‘mercilessly slaughter’ children. The vast majority of abortions are undertaken very early in a pregnancy when the fetus (not a child) has not even developed a nervous system and is probably no bigger than a jelly-bean. It is not a child. It is a potential child.

        “slaughtered in the name of convenience”

        Why do you think women choose abortion for ‘convenience’? That’s an incredibly misogynistic view which does not take into account either the circumstances of the pregnant woman or the future life chances of the potential child. Your comment is unbelievably ignorant and hurtful to the those women who have made a particularly difficult choice about whether to continue a pregnancy and have decided that, for them, for all kinds of serious reasons, it is simply not possible.

        You might note that many millions of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion – an ‘act of god’. Your god doesn’t seem to be doing much about stopping the ‘merciless slaughter’ of those babies, does he?

        If you do not agree with abortion, by all means, don’t have one. But don’t you DARE preach your ill-informed, mealy mouthed misogynistic morality at me and other women and try to inflict your narrow religious views on OUR bodies and OUR lives.

        What is more, your disgusting co-religionists think nothing of spewing out absolute lies in order to push your position. I have already exposed two Christian websites for perpetrating the lie that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. It’s a hypothesis that has been debunked for years, but you people just keep on trotting it out to frighten women into toeing the Christian line. And this is not the only lie.

        Moreover, they set up ‘Pregnancy counselling’ services specifically to talk women out of getting abortions (regardless of what is actually best for the woman). They use all kinds of lies and untruths to frighten women who are in an incredibly vulnerable position. But, like the good doctors above, do they disclose their religious motives? Oh, no! They hide that behind secular sounding names, so the women won’t suspect and are not given the choice to decide whether they want counselling from a religious perspective or not.

        In many cases where late-term abortions have been performed for very good reasons, your propagandists take the flimsiest of details and write about them in the very worst ‘shock horror’ tabloid terms. In every instance when I’ve come across such stories – e.g. she aborted the child JUST BECAUSE it had a cleft palate, or JUST BECAUSE it had dwarfism – I’ve been able to establish that there was far more to the story and that the decision was made for many more serious reasons than those disclosed by your Christian propagandists. Truly, if you had any sense of ethics or morality at all and read the amount of Christian propaganda (read LIES) about abortion, same-sex marriage, stem-cell research, homosexuality and gay parents the venal dishonesty with which these disgusting pieces of filth happily trash other people’s lives in order to advance their own morailty would make you want to vomit. They disgust me. And you supporting them and repeating their deceptive emotive spin disgusts me.

        Women, in general, are strong, intelligent and ethical. I cannot tell you how angry it makes me to have you, a MAN insist that YOU know why we might decide to have abortions and that YOU should determine what we should and should not be able to do based on YOUR religious convictions. How fucking dare you? Really. Who the fucking hell do you think you ARE?

        Now fuck off of my blog and don’t come back.

      3. nickandrew

        Dave, I’d be more impressed with your assertion of the “strong moral sense of Christian doctors” if there actually was some.

        Christianity doesn’t make somebody moral, else you would have long ago kicked out your church leaders who rape children. Instead, your leaders protect each other; they fail to report the abuse to secular authorities. They swear victims to secrecy. They move the offenders from parish to parish.

        When exposed, what do your Church leaders do? They dissemble, saying “that’s all in the past”, “it’s not as bad as you think”, “society was more accepting of it then”, “it was only a small number of priests”, “it’s due to the moral decay of society”, “don’t pick on us, the Anglicans do it too”, “nobody told us what to do” and “we didn’t know it was wrong”.

        When these crimes are exposed, what do your parishioners do? You make the exact same excuses and you continue to follow your leaders, like sheep. If you had a cubic centimetre of backbone among you, the outcry would not stop until the entire church leadership had been replaced.

        Meanwhile, your doctors, those of the supposedly superior moral fibre, are petitioning against what they see as everybody else’s flaws, namely abortion and same-sex marriage. Abortion on demand is every woman’s right, to control her own reproduction. Same sex marriage is an important human right, for a person to be allowed to marry the person they love regardless of gender.

        So basically you’re full of it. You Christians aren’t any more moral than anybody else, and I can point to a lot of evidence which indicates the opposite.

      4. rlwemm

        Dave, when a moral stance is held almost uniquely by those who profess a particular brand of religion then that moral stance is doctrinal, not rational or secular. It is certainly not superior to the general consensus about what is moral by those with the educational and scientific background best suited to make the informed assessments in the appropriate area

        If these moral stances were rationally superior then they would persuade those who have not been indoctrinated into distinctive sections of Christian and Islamic religions. They rarely, if ever, succeed in doing so. Even the smattering of atheists who oppose patient-approved euthansia and therapetic abortion developed these attitudes while they were still god believers, not as part of any ethical standpoint developed as the result of their loss of god belief.

        Ergo, these “moral” stances are merely the distorted ethics of religious belief. They are not “secular” notions which place the highest value on the quality of human life, given a balanced and informed view of all the factors and people implicated in any decision that is to made in any given situation. Religious morality is based on authoritarian, top down, black and while thinking that reflects a developmentally immature level of moral reasoning that is typical of those nine years old or younger.

    2. Ken Dally

      “Why is that people don’t bat an eyelid at a Muslim/Buddist/Islamist etc refusing to do things that are against their beliefs but Christians are not afforded this right?”

      Tanya, here we go again with a claim of special religious persecution where none exists. I can assure you that other religions behaving in this way will get exactly the same reaction here. For any medical professional to force their own morality on a patient is wrong. It is also morally abhorrent to not refer a patient in such circumstances.

      Your argument on looking to history is a complete non sequitur. Genocide bears no relevance to the debate on euthanasia, it a scare tactic used by those without an argument in attempt to pervert/divert the conversation. And really bringing up the whole soundly disproved Hitler was an atheist meme. Oh! and attributing a quote to the wrong person just shows the poor quality of any research you may or may not have done. The quote ’all it takes for evil to occur is that good men do nothing” is actually a sentiment attributed to the Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke although it is generally pointed out it does not appear in that form in any of his writings but is a summarised interpretation of some of his work.

      Reply
      1. rlwemm

        ^^^^^^🙂 The suggestion that Christians who hold these “moral” views are being discriminated against in comparision with faith patsys of other religions is incrediably naive, or the result of extremely blinkered views of reality. The same objections operate for Muslim doctors who wish to impose their very similar views on abortion and birth control on their patients. They apply to Jewish doctors who wish to perform circumcisions on all recently born male babies or Muslim sectarians who wish to mutilate female children’s vaginas. They apply to the clones of Mother Theresa who wish to withhold pain killers from patients on the doctrinal grounds that suffering is noble and pleasing to their version of god. It would apply to any doctor who wished to withold life saving and comfort promoting treatment on any grounds that were based in prejudice, cultural indoctrination, religious conviction or personal revelation that did not also have a valid and reasonable scientific and humanitarian basis that transcends partisan religious belief.

    3. Geoffrey Brent (@GeoffreyBrent)

      “I for one am happy to live in a society where people have the freedom to object according to their morals and conscience.”

      Nobody is being denied that right. They’re simply being criticized for exercising that right in a dishonest fashion, and there is no right of immunity from criticism.

      “then it was called “the Final Solution””

      Ever heard of a thing called Godwin’s Law?

      Reply
    4. Tess

      …“There are many organisations in Australia and internationally that support marriage – the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others – as the basis for family and a healthy society.

      Doctors for the Family is a supporting medical organisation to highlight the health aspects of marriage and family and ensure a healthy future for our children.

      Its purpose is to be a source of information and at times make representation to parliament or appropriate organisations to ensure policies that enhance and preserve the health and future of our nation.”…

      Tanya [Quote
      Did it not ever occur to you that people who are Christians can have an opinion on something and put the religious implications of that aside and speak to that matter from a logical medical view point. ] End quote.
      Research Tania, always helps to fined the anwser to questions, when you have the right questions to ask and the right motives.

      Reply
      1. nickandrew

        I call bullshit. Doctors For the Family is a mailing list and a lobby group, nothing more.

    5. CrazyHorse

      “all it takes for evil to occur is that good men do nothing”

      That’s why so many rail against the evil of the untruths of the likes of Lachlan Dunjey and “Doctors ‘for’ the Family”

      Reply
    6. G Thompson (@alpharia)

      Tanya:
      You have asked a few questions (some I see as rhetoric) but I thought I would answer them.

      Q: Why does it outrage you that doctors have a right to refuse to perform or prescribe procedures/medicine which goes against their moral beliefs?

      Moral beliefs play no part in the legal and ethical obligations of any profession, especially not Medical doctors! The duty to perform their obligations in the best interest of the patient and not in the best interest of [insert ideology here] is not only law but ingrained into the code that all doctors must abide by.

      Q: Why is that people don’t bat an eyelid at a Muslim/Buddist/Islamist etc refusing to do things that are against their beliefs but Christians are not afforded this right?

      Whether they are of an Abrahamic faith or any other religious or non-religious ideologies, if they refuse to perform their legal obligations they should and are brought to account. Beliefs play no part in ethical or legal duties.

      Q: Aren’t you using this article simply to push your atheist ‘anti-Christian’ agenda?

      Aren’t you using the above comment to push the same things? Your point is? [though we can see by statement of Muslim and Islamic as different ‘beliefs’ you have no real idea]

      Q:Are we really happy to be going down a path where doctors are not able to conscientiously object to perform or prescribe medical procedures/prescriptions that they are opposed to?

      Oh doctors are allowed to object, they just cannot refuse do perform tasks that they are required by law, their own oath, and/or the community mores (which sadly for religions constantly change to suit the times) to carry out. If they do refuse, they need to accept any and all consequences for their actions.

      Q: Do you want to go to a doctor who blindly carries out procedures without thought or conscience to the consequences?

      As long as it is in the best interests of the patient and legal then yes.

      Q: What if the euthanasia laws change to allow doctors to start killing off patients that are simply a burden on society rather than close to death and untreatable? Or what if the cost of treating them is too high? Is it okay to euthanase then?

      It’s all dependent on the community and if they decided democratically on that law or not. Who knows maybe in the best interests of the human race one day we might actually do something. Though you are welcome to leave that society if you like, or campaign to stop, prevent or whatever. Though your straw-man argument could also be pushed into what the Abrahamic religions were doing centuries ago for those who refused to worship the ‘one true god’.

      Q: I for one am happy to live in a society where people have the freedom to object according to their morals and conscience.

      I don’t think anyone would disagree with you, though morals (mores) change as the community and society changes, ethics on the other hand don’t. The law of the land is what society states it is at the time and the freedom to change, enhance, and remove certain mores and ideologies is the benefit of living within a free and civil society.

      Q: Look to history and see what happens when people of morals and conscience are stopped from speaking out.

      Do you really want to go down the history route of moral fortitude and what happens when ideologies don’t like what happens when people speak their minds?

      Q:This model of euthanasia has happened before and we choose to ignore that, then it was called “the Final Solution” and the world was unaware until it was finally discovered after over 6 million healthy men, women and children were killed. Lachlan Dunjey has a quote he likes to use which goes along the lines of …’all it takes for evil to occur is that good men do nothing.’

      I will disregard the “Godwins rule” remark and instead focus on your quote by Edmund Burke, to which he also stated “It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick[sic] to be the most anxious for its welfare.” And believe it when I say the Charismatic Christian lobby to which you are speaking for is, like in its final death throes, becoming so loud its making everyone hear the real hunger for control it has, and is also losing against the new mores, the unchanging ethics, and the logic of freedom loving people who just want to be left alone to live their lives how they see fit as long as it abides by what the majority of the community expects and the law allows (and to change that law if they require it).

      Reply
    7. palmboy

      Dave what makes you think you have the right to tell other people how to live your lives? People don’t go into your church telling you how to live your life – so it’s time mate to respect other, stop judging others (Isn’t that meant to be god job??), and keep your opinions to yourself.

      You have no right what ever to tell others how to live their lives.

      Also – I bet if that precious foetus you are so concerned about was gay, your lot would not be keen to save it and stick your nose into other people’s business ……. Oh yes, that’s right, you are probably under the misinformed ignorant impression that people choose their sexuality (when did you choose your sexuality?)

      Religion Is Like a Penis – It’s fine to have one. It’s fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around.

      Reply
      1. rlwemm

        Palmboy, i think you misunderstand where someone like Tanya has been thoroughly brain washed into believing that her the moral viewpoint taught by authorities in her particular version of Christianity are superior to all others and that all other viewpoints are either “evil” or inferior because they are unenlightened by her religious viewpoint or her peculiar version of “god”.

        I think Tanya, and others like her, sincerely believes that it is her duty to make everyone else conform to her version of “superior” morality. Her religion requires that she “spread the good news” according to the interpretation put on it by her particular sub-branch of her faction of Christianity. What she will be unable to either see or acknowledge (because of the profound effects of protective cognitive blindness) is that her particular viewpoint does NOT represent the mainstream views of modern day Christians, especially those who live in more societies where the average citizen is much better educated and more socially mature than the citizens of the U.S.A.

    8. Ian Wood

      Tanya, Please spare me the “what if” arguments on VOLUNTARY euthanasia. Please look at the FACTS for Oregon and Belgium where the legal option of medically assisted dying has been available for over 10 years. VOLUNTARY euthanasia means at the request of the person who is dying. You may not believe it, but a majority of patients in Oregon and Belgium who request and are accepted for an assisted death, actually live longer and have a better end quality of life than those who do not request it! It provides peace of mind for those who are suffering. “It is not a choice between life and death, but a choice between different ways of dying”, to quote Jacques Pohier, former Dominican. I too am happy to have freedom to object according to my conscience, but not happy when some other Christians believe they have the right to deny me my CHOICE to have some input into my dying. Ian Wood, National Coordinator, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia.

      Reply
      1. rlwemm

        Strong words – and good ones. It is not discriminatory to prevent SOME Christians, from a certain variety of that faith, from trying to legislate their beliefs onto everyone else. They should not be restricting the choices that someone ELSE can make about the manner and time of their death, especially if that other person does not believe the doctrines of their particular brand of religion.

  15. Pingback: Who are ‘Doctors for the Family’? « The Conscience Vote

  16. Pingback: Doctors for the Family’s hidden religious agenda « Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

  17. sflyons

    I saw the article in the Herald Sun on Sunday and immediately twigged that it was the same people this blog post was about. Paying dividends, Gladly.

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Doctors for the Family – Debunked « Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

  19. mochuck

    I think Dave totally missed the point that they are using their standing in the community as doctors to hide behind their religious bias

    Reply
  20. tamlyn123

    @DAVE:
    Ever been pregnant, Dave? No? I thought not. When you have, come back and tell us your thoughts – we’d be really interested to see if you’re still of the same mind.
    In the meantime, just bugger off, will you? ‘Cause we’ve all heard that crap before, and we’re no more impressed by it this time than we were the first.

    Cushla Geary

    Reply
    1. rlwemm

      The “family values” supported by these stealth religious organizations are actually quite un-biblical.

      The god described in the Bible supports the morals and values of the time. Moral reasoning and scientific understanding has come a long way since then.

      The god of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic scriptures support sthe masculine possession of women, children, concubines, servants and slaves. This morally immature god is quick to treat the human possesions of his male followers as property that has few “human rights” , and none that conflict with the “rights” of their masculine owners. The Bible god is quick to punish his almost entirely male following by bringing harm, not to these men, but to the human “property” of these men: their wives, children, servants and livestock, Job’s family, for example, are tortured and killed just so this god can win a bet he made with the Fallen Angel he kicked out of his Heaven because he supposedly couldn’t abide his company. So why is he colluding with him to do damage to his most faithful supporter?

      If these “secular moralists” wish to support real biblical morality then they would be dashing little children on rocks or ripping them from the womb if their parents fail to please the right version of god, They would be supporting marriage of siblings (Abraham), rape and sexual exploitation of maidservants aka female slaves (Abraham), attempting to kill or actually killing the sexually exploited maid and the bastard son you fathered (Abraham, again), large harems (King David), stoning unruly children (commandments given by god to Moses), forcing raped women to marry their rapist because they are no longer of any “value” to anyone else (same unenlightened commandments), abandoning one’s family to follower an itinerant preacher (disciples of Jesus) and using your conviction of being a special vessel of a god to behave poorly towards your parents (Jesus). And so on and on and on.

      And then there are Biblical Health Values – like using the example of Jesus to treat seizures, epilepsy and palsy or the formulae of the apostles for dealing with illness by annointing, prayer and the laying on of hands before resorting to any scientifically valid intervention. The biblically correct approach would be for the doctor to call an “apostle”, pour some oil on the patient and then put their hands prayerfully on his or her head before using a defibrillator, attaching an oxygen mask, stemming bleeding or starting CPI, I somehow doubt that medical ethics boards would be persuaded of the superior morality of doctors who did this, let alone persuaded of their competence to continue practising medicine.

      In other words, the “family values” of these so-callled “secularists” are very unbiblical. Perhaps they should be countered by the Doctors Society for the Imposition of Actual Biblical Family and Health Values on All Australian Patients.

      Reply
    2. rlwemm

      I doubt that any of his family members have been pregnant and in danger of death or permanent disability. Or perhaps not. Doctors and nurses have a string of stories about the hypocrisy of anti-abortionists when they or their family are in danger. One of the most amazing example of encapsulated thinking was a teenage daughter of a very active Right to Fright family who had been helping them picket abortion clinics – until she had unprotected sex and got pregnant. When her father brought her into the clinic for a pregnancy termination so the family would not be embarrassed (a truly “great” reason) she upset the waiting room by preaching to them about their sinfulness and disgusting decision to have an abortion while distancing herself from these “sluts”. Only the truly cognitively blind could so such a thing. The story appears to be well-documented fact rather than urban myth. In any case, it gels with some of my own experiences while working with women in various crisis situations.

      Reply
  21. Djarm Sixtyseven

    Great article Chrys. Another example of the religious masquerade.

    For those interested in more on the Discovery Institute (which has never actually discovered anything) at the Dover trial, here is the doco.

    DJ

    Reply
  22. Sal

    I can’t believe the level of rudeness the author of this blog has shown in her reply to Dave’s post. From what I can see, he seemed to be making a valid point, which is that you don’t have to be religious to wish to practice according to your conscience (which surely not only religious people have!). He said some things on abortion that many people may not agree with, but they are points that have been made before in the abortion debate and not exactly something new or shocking – and as far as I can see did not attack you personally.

    You, in turn, missed his point completely (or perhaps failed to try to understand it), and launch into a tirade of finger-pointing, associating him with people and positions he may have nothing to do with, and to top it off, rude and vile personal attacks. You want to accuse him of being mean and hateful but it is clear to everyone which of the posts is actually spewing the most hate.

    Emotive and rude posts like your reply help no-one and contribute poorly to intelligent and rational discussion. In fact I would venture to say that had it been posted anywhere else but here on your own blog, it would have been deleted by the owner for the kind of language it uses and its absolute arrogance and rudeness to people who dare to hold different opinions. I am afraid that my opinion of this blog and its author have been diminished.

    Reply
  23. Sal

    I would also like to raise a point about something you said:
    ‘Abortion does not ‘mercilessly slaughter’ children. The vast majority of abortions are undertaken very early in a pregnancy when the fetus (not a child) has not even developed a nervous system and is probably no bigger than a jelly-bean. It is not a child. It is a potential child.’

    I do believe (please correct me if I am wrong as you have probably looked into this more) that the Doctors in Conscience petition was started up as a response to the proposed (now passed) Victorian legislation, part of which was to legalise late-term abortion (i.e. after 20 weeks gestation). So, I think it is actually the late-term abortions many people have problems with and feel uncomfortable about (after all they have limbs and organs and facial features by then). You don’t have to be religious to feel ‘not-quite-right’ about these abortions, I think!

    Reply
    1. rlwemm

      No-one likes having abortions, especially late term ones, just as no-one in their right mind would have a radical masectomy if there were other ways to save one’s life. It is a matter of following the best course of action given ALL of the contributing circumstances.

      I am not familiar with the Victorian legislation (I have lived in the US for 13 years now) but I expect that it would have been drafted to allow for best course of action to be followed in those rare instances where a late term abortion if the treatment of choice, even if the last resort. I would expect it to include a whole lot of clauses that prevented it from being abused or used as a first resort. I hope, but cannot be certain, that the Victorian Government also has in place a series of measures that are aimed at preventing the need for abortions in the first place – like good sex education (opposed by Evangelical Christians and Fundamentalist Muslims), easy availability of effective contraceptive measures for those who could impregnate or be impregnated (opposed by the Catholic hierarchy), programs that seek to assist single mothers and their children (not supported by religious conservatives).and social educational programs that seek to remove the stigma of unwed motherhood (opposed by most conservative evangelical and Catholic Christians).

      The “morality” of the whole anti-abortion stance is undone by the efforts that its supporters make to impede all activities that have been shown to be effective in preventing or minimizing the need or request for abortions. This hippocracy reveals it for what it really is: a misogynist power play that seeks to keep women in the place to which the Abrahamic god appears to have assigned them.

      Reply
      1. Trish

        I don’t know of any Evangelical Christians who oppose birth control as anything but an individually applied belief (ie. some believe that they are ‘called’ not to use birth control once married, the same way they won’t lose their virginity before marriage). In my opinion, that’s their right, that’s their life.

        The late-term abortion proposal is something which I’m sickened by. Having lost pregnancies in the second trimester, I can tell you that by about 17 weeks – they’re definitely ‘babies’. The Croydon Clinic was offering abortions after 24 weeks for ‘psychosocial reasons’ – whilst the youngest baby to survive outside the womb was born at 21 weeks and 6 days. They (and many other places) are still offering 20-24 week abortions at the mother’s request. How do I know? Because a friend had an abortion there. She told the doctor she “didn’t want to stop working as she enjoyed her job too much”, which they accepted as ‘in the best interests of the mother’. I have to accept that as her legal right, at the moment.

        But if the law allowed me to set you on fire without consequence, or reduced the penalty for killing you to a $500 fine or 1 month in prison, you’d oppose it. Your blog fails to accept the validity of personal ethics if they don’t agree with your own, a sad, sad state of affairs (again, in my opinion).

        The Christians I know are mostly good people – like me (an atheist), they all have struggles in their lives, but I’m happy that they have the right to sign stuff without sticking their faith on it too. Next you’ll want them to sew a red cross onto their clothes if they’re Catholics, a white cross if they’re Anglicans, and a …hmm, what colour do you want for the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Evangelicals? Do you want a yellow Star of David for the jewish opinions? You could make a little icon to go next to their name!

        I’m not trying to incite you here – I don’t want to put “Me, an Atheist” down when I sign a petition. I’m signing as me. My religion or lack thereof may inform my choices and opinions, but it doesn’t make me an uneducated ‘sheep’.

        So rwlemm – check what Christians actually say. Most seem to be in favour of ultrasound scans, IVF etc these days – in fact, an evangelical Christian couple I know are going through their third IVF cycle right now. They’re taking hormones etc – doing all the things to minimise the risk of a miscarriage and maximise their chances of success.

        I’ve never seen anyone tarred by ‘the stigma of being a single mother’ by Christians. These days this country is mostly secular, not Christian, and not getting married or having the sperm donor / father around isn’t the issue it was in the 80s. I think the Christian population of Australia is remarkably quiet – sitting around meekly while their beliefs get trampled on for fear of being called bigots, homophobes etc. The Muslim population seem to be able to express their beliefs more clearly. I have to agree with the poster down below. A few sexual abuse issues, horrific indeed, have damaged the Christian population the same way 9/11 damaged Islam. Maybe more.

        rwlemm – you say you’re a clinical psych, but you’re bigoted against people with beliefs. Returning to the base topic, did you disclose your anti-Christian, anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish beliefs before seeing people, advising them that their care might be compromised because of your lack of understanding and lack of tolerance? Doesn’t sound like it. Jo never says (s)he is male or female, and never says (s)he is a Christian, but you assume it because it suits your arguments. I’d love you to link to your APA registration page if you want to back up your position with facts. Or do you feel that you can say whatever you like behind a cloak online, but you don’t have to tie it to your professional background?

        Lastly (for you), I’m surprised by your allusion to Christian counselling in hospitals for miscarriage/abortion. The only counselling I was offered at two different NSW hospitals was secular in nature and didn’t even check I was on their wavelength before ploughing in. Most religious/pro-life organisations have lost government funding while pro-choice organisation have continued to receive funding. If you look at the National Pregnancy Helpline, it generally (ie. the majority of the time) refers to pro-abortion groups – pregnancy can be a difficult time and some of these counsellors put a massive amount of pressure on a mother to terminate. I know from personal experience, because I’ve called for advice in the past. And not liking what I heard, I called again and again.

        As for ethical rights of doctors for individual conscience, my (male) GP where possible switches with a female GP to do ob-gyn/breast exams. I asked him his reason and he said “to be above any hint of suspicion or reproach in my conduct at all times”, or something to that effect. I occasionally have to wait a couple of minutes while he finds a female doctor, but I respect any doctor that wants to demonstrate he’s respectful of my body. After a few years, he also mentioned that some of his patients had complained that male doctors made gyn exams uncomfortable (ladies, we’ve all been there!) and he didn’t want to contribute to a patient’s discomfort if it could be avoided. All sorts of doctors have all sorts of personal ethics – to ask a doctor to carry out an abortion he may not be skilled enough to perform instead of allowing him to call a colleague seems bizarre – given that the majority of australian’s are city dwellers close to a relevant major hospital, I’ve never heard of a doctor prioritising the life of a child over that of the mother – historically the decision is left with those who’re affected by the loss of either life. A couple of hundred years ago it was common for a mother to decide to give up her life in order for her offspring to live, and while I’m glad of the advances in modern medicine, I’d gladly do the same.

        I believe it is the obligation of any doctor whose beliefs may compromise my care to express in which situations he cannot provide adequate care in order to inform my opinion, but as far as I’m concerned he or she should be allowed to hold ethical positions and personal beliefs without fear of persecution.

        and as for

        “If anyone comes into my house and expresses hateful views about homosexuals or any other group – yes, they are invited to leave. This is a house of love, peace and acceptance and we do not tolerate hate speech here.”

        you’re really not backing up those words with actions….

      2. rlwemm

        Hi Trish.
        You seem to have some really weird ideas about what I think and feel. I have no idea where you got them from but it doesn’t seem to be from readying anything I’ve written here. I reread everything to see if I could figure it out. The only thing I could think of what that you may have failed to notice that I live in the U.S.A. these days and some of what I said was responding to the extreme crazies that live and wield power in this country. I thought I had made a distinction between the two fairly clear, but it does not seem to have been clear to you. Perhaps if you read what I’d written again it might be clearer.

        I was REALLY surprised to learn that I am prejudiced against people with religious views! I generally bend over backwards to make sure that people’s wishes are met, provided that they are not hurting others, and provided that they do not appear to be making a poorly thought out emotion-based decision that they will probably have cause to sincerely regret at some later stage.

        My experiences seem to be different from yours. My secular Family Planning counselor encouraged me to go ahead with my pregnancy, which was the opposite of what my doctor thought would be best for me and the fetus. OTOH, the religious Right to Life person who involved herself in my case tried to talk me out of having the recommended tubal ligation after my child was born. Considering the circumstances, it would be hard to see that as anything but irresponsible by someone who was not indoctrinated into the Catholic views on birth control. Unlike my secular helpers, this religious one dropped off a gift of a few diapers after my child was born and then disappeared as if that was all that was needed to keep both me and the baby alive and well over the difficult 18 months that followed. I have no respect for THAT kind of religious behavior.

        I can appreciate you concern over the idea of late term abortions. I thought I made that relatively clear. You mentioned the case of someone you knew who appeared (and that is the operative word) to have been granted a late term abortion on grounds that you thought to be trivial. I used to work with people making these kinds of decisions. Unless you are a trained health professional you would be unlikely to get a total and unbiased picture from your friend anymore than you would if she was explaining to you why she had just had a radical masectomy. The screening process would have picked up a lot more than you noticed about her capacity to survive the continued pregnancy both physically and emotionally and the effect that this would have on the growing fetus. You have no idea what the prognosis for the fetus was, do you? A common response to the trauma of a late term abortion is for the main victim (who is the mother) to down play the reason why the abortion was medically necessary. I’ll bet that you do not know what the prognosis for the mother was, either. In other words, you are basing your decision on emotions that are not informed by all the facts of the matter. As I said before, no-one, including medical personnel, like late term abortions. They are done when the alternatives – all of them – are worse. Until you have worked in this field in a professional capacity you really don’t have the expertise or experience to assume that such procedures are being performed lightly.
        / end annoyed sermon 🙂

    2. nickandrew

      Sal wrote: “I do believe (please correct me if I am wrong as you have probably looked into this more) that the Doctors in Conscience petition was started up as a response to the proposed (now passed) Victorian legislation, part of which was to legalise late-term abortion (i.e. after 20 weeks gestation).”

      Before you get all squicky about how foetuses have arms and legs, you could do a modicum of research into what you are claiming, and no, it wasn’t about late term abortions AT ALL.

      From http://www.conscienceinmedicine.net.au/faqs/#4

      Was there a trigger to this?

      Yes. The trigger as explained in the separate page Why This Declaration was primarily the Victorian Abortion Reform Law Section 8 which compels doctors to refer for abortion – to a doctor they know will be in favour of abortion – or in emergency do it themselves (!).

      Their (Lachlan Dunjey and his gang called ‘Liberty of Conscience in Medicine’) concern is not for the patient, or even the foetus. They don’t like to be compelled by law to give a referral to a patient who needs an abortion. They don’t want to write a damn letter to some other doctor. Oh, and if it’s an emergency (i.e. the woman may die without an abortion) they don’t want to do that life-saving procedure either.

      All this argumentation about how these Christian Doctors have superior morals to the rest of us because they’re Christian goes flat when you realise that these doctors are pursuing an essentially selfish agenda. It’s all about how they feel about the procedure. No, they won’t do it, not even to save a woman’s life, and no, they won’t send her to somebody who cares.

      Reply
      1. rlwemm

        It is a very sick form or morality that puts the life and well-being of a fully sentient life form ahead of the right of a non-sentient being to develop consciousness and awareness. It should be a really easy decision to favor the fully aware woman, and it generally is for people who have not been indoctrinated into a belief system that they cannot or will not critically exam.

        The real objection to these professional pressure groups is that their agenda is force their disturbed view of morality on everyone while excusing themselves from behaving in a way that is in the best interests of their most sentient patient.

  24. JoeyJoes

    It might be stepping on a landmine to post amongst these angry taunts. But, to state some realities, in most cases these it would be hard to say no to some abortions, esp when they’re life saving. Let me clear up some things then. I’m not here to persuade or bash or revenge or anything, on any side, but to state what I know from experience. from consultations. 😉

    Firstly, from most I know, yes the life saving ones are there, This article argues about life saving ones yes I know, and it’s difficult to argue against not saving a life. Fortunately, in any emergency setting more than 90% where abortions that have to be done in the past to ‘save a life’ need not be done! A great thing I guess! I think the anti-abortion bill from knowledge came about from the concern that the abortions will increase due to social reasons (and I personally feel sad for this and I will talk about it a bit later, about adoption), at an increasingly later pregnancy. In reality, most are done today for social reasons, like too many children, or having to study, or not ready yet, or more commonly accidental pregnancy among teenagers.

    Many obstetricians and nurses of not a Christian or Catholic background have some moral stance against abortion, and the stances depend on different situations, So, it’s a common misconception that only Christian or Catholic doctors (or of other religions) have a stance against abortion, Most ‘moral consciences’ arise mostly those of the later stages of pregnancy, especially from 15 weeks onwards. I know of this lady decided to abort her baby at 36 weeks (2-3 weeks before delivery) for only social reasons and there was a lot of unrest among staff and most chose not to be on duty for that refused to inject KCl into the heart of the baby. This is an extreme case however. I’ve seen nurses and doctors of not a Christian/Catholic background react the same in much younger pregnancies. They take it as their ‘moral stance’.

    To be honest, pregnancy counselling from my experience is almost always secular, because many mothers, even secular ones, who abort their baby do suffer from tremendous psychological issues after the abortion, because most of them still perceive that it is ‘life’ even in very early stages when neurons have not yet formed. It’s called a mother-baby bonding and yes, it can be explained by hormones but that doesn’t take away from that closeness. I believe most mums share that belief. While not all mums who decide not to abort have a happy ending, almost more mums suffer some degree of psychological impairment with abortion, than with those who has delivered the child and did not have a happy ending. But going back to talk about life saving abortions, most of the life threatening cases happen at a later stage of pregnancy (28-32 weeks), where mum wants the baby and has every intention to keep! So it is NOT the big bad misc. doctors against the mum’s wishes and poor mum is the victim wanting badly to abort the baby!! Most of the time the family exhorts to do everything available in medicine in keep the baby – that is to deliver/C-section early! Why abort when medical interventions help keep a very little baby alive and well (but after some struggles does the baby come well eventually). Why is that not an option considered when the government passed the bill? Why were there no proper guidelines? Sadly, that was the case from my knowledge.

    There has been some talk about adoption as a good way, no guilt for mum, no burden, happy ending right? Unfortunately, the law makes it exceptionally hard for couples who have tried for children and failed to conceive, to adopt a child. There are many couples out there who want children badly and have failed medical help (ie artifical) but are not able to adopt. I think it’s such a sad thing to see some children (or potential children if you would prefer that) be removed like that while it could offer so much happiness! The system has to change!!

    So, I see where both sides are coming from. I’ve read the actual CMDFA statement and I think it’s not untrue, esp the medical part, whether there is an alternate agenda or not. No doubt about it.

    I think the majority of the anger comes from the lack of communication and misunderstandings between the two. Unfortunately, the black sheep “Christians” who rape kids and kill and so all those horrid stuff in the name of God are the ones that make the press, leaving the public to think all Christians/Catholics are ignorant, uncaring, arrogant fools, who hate gays, who happily watch people die and throw snide remarks to the world without justification,and protect their own. That is the most popular misconception because most Christians I know are lovely, lovely people. It is like the fashion today to hit and do-as-much-damage to the first Christian/Catholic you see, esp online. What has the world become people. How can we rally against war when we refuse to make peace among ourselves? Yes, you can say it’s the Christian/Catholic’s fault to shove their noses into this, but it takes two to tango!

    I’m happy to clear up any medically related questions for and against abortion. But I doubt people are interested in this sort of medical discussion.🙂

    Love,
    Jo

    Reply
    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      Jo begins: “… state some realities”

      Yes, let’s. Realities Jo, are not your opinion or what you’ve observed in your limited experience, but actual facts proven by proper investigation and shown to be representative of the whole. This is done through research using proper methodology and scientific method then subjected to peer review. At length, a body of work builds up which reaches a consensus. This reflects ‘reality’, which is why the government and medical boards don’t make decisions based on ‘what Jo thinks’.

      “Fortunately, in any emergency setting more than 90% where abortions that have to be done in the past to ‘save a life’ need not be done!”

      In your humble opinion. Isn’t it wonderful that you think YOU should make that decision for another woman being privy, of course, to all of the intimate details of every patient’s life. Isn’t it incredible that YOU, little Jo, should know so much more and be oh so more moral than the woman, her partner, her family, her GP and the doctors and psychiatrists at the hospital who obviously disagree with you. No, no – of course YOU would know best Jo!

      “In reality, most are done today for social reasons, like too many children, or having to study, or not ready yet, or more commonly accidental pregnancy among teenagers.”

      Half right. The statistics do show that most abortions in Victoria are done for psycho-social reasons. I wonder, Jo, in your (religious?) prejudice against abortion, did you ever stop to ask – what kind of abortions go into that category? No, you just assumed that it meant ‘for trivial reasons’. “Oh, bugger – my schedule’s so full I’m going to have to cancel that manicure I’d booked for next Friday. Ooops! And I think I’d better pop into the clinic and get an abortion too.” Do you not even consider how incredibly ignorant that assumption is?

      “Most ‘moral consciences’ arise mostly those of the later stages of pregnancy, especially from 15 weeks onwards. I know of this lady decided to abort her baby at 36 weeks (2-3 weeks before delivery) for only social reasons …”

      First, let’s look at ‘some realities’. Leslie Cannold, a leading expert on abortion in Vicroria tells us that: “The statistics on women in Victoria having terminations from 24 weeks into pregnancy are incomplete, badly presented and out of date – but they still allow us to estimate the number at slightly fewer than 138 women a year.”

      One hundred and thirty-eight. You are not talking about a huge number of terminations here. So women are obviously not RUSHING to abort late-term.

      Late-term abortions are not provided ‘on demand’. Again, from Leslie:

      “Committees are nearly always convened for such cases, to decide whether the risk to the woman’s life or health is certain enough, or the conditions affecting the foetus are catastrophic enough, for the answer to be ”yes”. Women are barred from speaking to these committees, though it is they, their partners and existing children who will wear the consequences of the judgment made. If they pass muster, they’ll be offered a safe, lawful abortion. If it’s ”no”, they’ll be shown the door.”

      Now the clincher to your ‘realities’, Jo. Leslie continues:

      “…in the official statistics, abortions done to save the life and health of the mother are categorised as psychosocial. This is despite the fact that hospital access restrictions imply, and pro-life advocates argue, that psychosocial reasons are silly and trivial.

      In Victoria, the reasons women seek abortions after 24 weeks include the women not being a woman at all but a girl aged 11 to 15. They include the fact that the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Psychosocial indicators take in women who are victims of domestic violence and women with intellectual disabilities or psychiatric conditions such as paranoid schizophrenia and suicidal depression. Heroin and alcohol addiction also fall under the psychosocial heading, as do cases of women from religious migrant families that might, upon learning of the pregnancy, set them alight. Women who had planned to continue the pregnancy until they learnt an existing child or their husband had cancer fell into this category, as do women who have been delayed by medical incompetence (like failures to diagnose pregnancy) or obstructed by ignorant or pro-life doctors who wrongly advise that abortion is illegal or that they are too far gone.”

      But, it’s all too easy for people like you and Sal (above) –

      “I do believe (please correct me if I am wrong as you have probably looked into this more) that the Doctors in Conscience petition was started up as a response to the proposed (now passed) Victorian legislation, part of which was to legalise late-term abortion (i.e. after 20 weeks gestation). So, I think it is actually the late-term abortions many people have problems with and feel uncomfortable about (after all they have limbs and organs and facial features by then). You don’t have to be religious to feel ‘not-quite-right’ about these abortions, I think!”

      to suggest in your moralistic, passive-aggressive manner that women undertake abortions as a matter of convenience and that ‘social’ reasons means, ‘a baby will interfere with my social life’.

      “To be honest, pregnancy counselling from my experience is almost always secular …”

      To be honest, you are clearly clueless. Faith-based pregnancy counselling services abound but ‘appear’ to be secular because they routinely do not disclose their religious affiliations. This is dishonest, because a ‘faith-based’ service is a front to talk women OUT of getting abortions, not a service which genuinely provides them with accurate information on a range of options and let’s them make the decision that works best for them.

      Further, because many faith-based counselling services are ‘not for profit’ and offer services for free or by donation, they are not subject to the trade practices legislation that regulates misinformation and false advertising. That means they are not required by law to reveal their anti-choice bias and are not held to account for providing false and misleading information to vulnerable women.

      Consider the story of ‘Sara’. It is not unusual:

      “Sara called Children by Choice in July 2010, when she was 5 weeks pregnant. She was hesitant to ask for the information she wanted – where to get an abortion – and it soon emerged that when she was pregnant in 2008 she had had a very negative experience with a ‘pregnancy counselling and support service’ in her home state of Victoria.

      To her shock, the counsellor began by showing her graphic pictures of an aborted fetus, and told her this is what it would look like if Sara ‘killed her baby’. The counsellor told Sara that most young women who have had an abortion regretted it, and that if she went ahead with an abortion she would get breast cancer and suffer depression for the rest of her life. Distressed and shocked, Sara explained the circumstances of the pregnancy, a brutal sexual assault by an ex-partner, to which the counsellor replied that many women like rough sex and asked why she didn’t use a condom.

      Sara went ahead with the termination despite the intimidation she suffered at this service. When she found herself pregnant this time, she called Children by Choice in Brisbane as she was so unsure which of her local services she could trust. She is still dealing with the emotional trauma which her anti-choice ‘counsellor’ inflicted, and had several conversations with our counsellors before she felt ready to trust that they would not judge her or try to force her into a particular decision.”

      If you’re worried about ‘psychological damage’, why don’t you start by going after these faith-based monsters, Jo?

      Which leads us to your next point:

      “… many mothers, even secular ones, who abort their baby do suffer from tremendous psychological issues after the abortion … almost more mums suffer some degree of psychological impairment with abortion, than with those who has delivered the child and did not have a happy ending.”

      Actually, Jo, no – you’re wrong.

      There is an extensive body of research which shows the most common reaction of women to abortion is …. relief. Despite the best efforts of the religious right to argue to the contrary, the medical and psychological consensus (based on legitimate, peer-reviewed research) is that women who have had abortions are no more likely to suffer psychological trauma or mental illness than any other woman. There may be, however, an argument that women with a pre-existing mental illness may be more likely to seek an abortion (for very good reasons!). The important point to be made, though is that there is NO credible evidence which suggests abortions routinely cause psychological damage.

      In fact, a 2008 systematic review of the medical literature, published in the journal Contraception, found that high-quality studies consistently showed few or no mental-health consequences of abortion, while poor-quality studies were more likely to report negative consequences. Another systematic review in late 2011 by the U.K. National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health also concluded that abortion did not increase the risk of mental-health problems.

      That is not to say that women are unmoved by the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Of course, for many, it is an extremely difficult and emotional decision. But, as the American Psychological Association says:

      “Although there may be sensations of regret, sadness, or guilt, the weight of the evidence from scientific studies indicates that legal abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in the first trimester does not pose a psychological hazard for most women…
      Women who are terminating pregnancies that are wanted and personally meaningful, who lack support from their partner or parents for the abortion, or who have more conflicting feelings or are less sure of their decision before hand may be a relatively higher risk for negative consequences.”

      “Unfortunately, the black sheep “Christians” who rape kids and kill and so all those horrid stuff in the name of God are the ones that make the press, leaving the public to think all Christians/Catholics are ignorant, uncaring, arrogant fools, who hate gays, who happily watch people die and throw snide remarks to the world without justification,and protect their own.”

      And you, Jo, compound that impression by spouting off absolute arrant nonsense based on ‘your opinion’ rather than bothering to do some research to find out whether ‘your opinion’ is borne out by the facts. The ‘fact’ is you and yours don’t CARE about the facts – you care about advancing your own moral code and forcing it upon everyone else. You don’t CARE about the hurt that causes or the people you trample on as you rush to tell women who’ve had abortions that they ‘didn’t need to do it’ and that their reasons are trivial. You don’t CARE about the trauma inflicted on women by faith-based pregnancy counsellors who tell them straight up lies in order to scare and intimidate them into following YOUR (im)moral code. You don’t CARE about the children you hurt as you tell the world their same-sex parents aren’t good enough to be able to marry. You don’t CARE about the future of the child with paraplegia when you campaign against stem-cell research. No – it’s all about YOU and what YOU think is right and moral. And, Jo, if you’re anything like most of the fundamentalist Christians I deal with, when you read something that accords with your narrow moral view, you don’t even bother to check its veracity – you just accept it as gospel truth. You’ve shown that in your comments here.

      So, forgive me Jo – and Sal – if I am extremely tetchy about people who come onto MY blog and start moralising with absolute crappy arguments that I know to be complete and utter hogwash. Perhaps if you sat here, as I do, many, many hours of each week, week after week, month after month, year after year, reading this incredible drivel and then speaking to the people whose lives that drivel effects you may also be finally driven to say: Just fuck off.

      Reply
      1. tamlyn123

        I was going to respond to those two closed-minded persons, Chrys – but you’ve done it so comprehensively I’ll save myself the time. Thanks – and keep up the good work: don’t let the bastards grind you down!

        Cushla Geary

    2. rlwemm

      HI Jo.
      Most Christians are nice people in spite of their religion. Most are more moral than the pen pictures of the god that they worship. The Yahweh god of described in the Jewish/Christian scriptures is a truly nasty piece of work that displays morals that only the most despicable of today’s Christians would even try to emulate. You really should read ALL of your scriptures, you know, not just the carefully chosen ones they read in church services and quote in evangelical literature.

      As a clinicial psychologist, I can assure you that most of the negative feelings people experience following an abortion are either hormonal (and virtually identical to those what people experience after a miscarriage) or stem from the insidious guilt inducing environment of their religious community. People who live in regions or nations which are not devoutly Catholic, Islamic of fundamentalist Protestant do not exhibit these symptoms. That is, the symptoms are a symptom of a sick making society, not of the medical procedure.

      I notice that you are male, Joe. That makes if difficult for you to see pregnancy from a female perspective. Pregnancy is not just like a walk in the park pushing a baby in a pram that you can give to someone else to look after at the end of your trip.

      Pregnancy puts an enormous strain on the female body and can cause many serious physical problems that result in death or permanent pain and injury, especially at the very young and very old end of the fertility spectrum. I elected to put up with the risks and now have a 17 year old (who I love very much) and serious back problems that have resulted in 3 spinal surgeries, 5 spinal fusions, a bladder that is very unreliable at holding its contents, walking problems and lost of back pain. My doctors told me that if I ever turned up at their hospital pregnant again they would shoot me on sight to save them the inevitable problem of disposing of a dead fetus and probably having to wheel my body down to the morgue as well. The pretty pictures painted by religious people with “family” agendas don’t tell you about these scenarios, do they?

      Reply
  25. Jean

    Chrys, Thank you so much for continuing to take the time to confront these people and to say what needs to be said. Not that they are listening, but.

    Reply
      1. Sal

        Actually, we are (at least, I am) listening. I am generally interested in and respect the opinions of people who disagree with me. (e.g. I appreciated the points put forth by rlwemm.) I feel a little sad that you do not afford me and other dissenting commenters the same respect. You slander and hurl abuse at us, and essentially claim we are evil and narrow-minded – simply because we didn’t think exactly the same way as you. Who is the narrow-minded one?

        Also, you make a lot of presumptions about people’s backgrounds, without actually knowing anything about them – any of us could be somebody you know in real life. Would you tell people you knew in real life to ‘f-off’ simply because they didn’t agree with you, or had a different religion/worldview? If not, then why be so intolerant on your blog?

      2. Jean

        Wearing, indeed. I did it for years, then quit. I’m getting ready to return to the fray, though. So glad to meet so many awesome people at GAC; fired me up!

  26. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

    Sal, do not confuse anger at narrow-minded, ill informed views which do genuine harm to innocent people with intolerance. The views you, Dave and Jo have expressed here are the former. If anyone comes into my house and expresses hateful views about homosexuals or any other group – yes, they are invited to leave. This is a house of love, peace and acceptance and we do not tolerate hate speech here.

    This is not a matter of a different religious or world view. This is a matter of people lying, propagandizing and completely ignoring established facts because it clashes with their narrow, religious prejudice. No, I will not ‘tolerate’ that, no more than I will ‘tolerate’ the circumcision of female children because some other religionists think that’s a great idea.

    My friends will tell you that I welcome differing views – providing they are based on good evidence and not prejudice and ignorance. There are many things which are not yet established and I do not claim to be on the right side of all of them. But there IS no question on the facts I have related above – they are well established. And there IS no question that the anti-abortion view hurts women at their most vulnerable and seeks to impose a particular set of religious/moral values on those who do not share them.

    Again, I must stress. I do not seek to impose my view on you. Don’t believe in gay marriage? Don’t marry someone of the same sex. iDon’t believe in abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t believe in stem cell research? Refuse treatment if you should become paraplegic. Don’t believe in euthanasia? By all means, die in agony while vomiting faeces from your mouth – be my guest. But DO NOT, DO NOT DARE, to force your narrow, prejudiced, hurtful, ill-informed views on to me and the people I love or, I can guarantee, that whether you are someone posting on my blog, my great aunt Bessie or a Cardinal in the Catholic Church, I will tell you to fuck off.

    Reply

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