By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

MELBOURNE, October 23, 2009 ( – On the first anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in the State of Victoria, which occurred on October 22 2008, the bishops of Victoria have issued a pastoral letter that condemns the termination of innocent life, and questions the coercion of unwilling doctors and nurses to cooperate in the procurement of abortion.

The bishops' statement, entitled “A People of Life and a People for Life,” says that the liberalization of abortion law in Victoria is “a symptom of a much deeper cultural problem of increasing secularisation and relativism.”

The Victoria Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 makes abortion available virtually on demand up to 24 weeks gestation. From 25 weeks up to birth abortion is also legal, providing a woman has the consent of two doctors.

For the first time nurses and pharmacists can also dispense drugs designed to cause abortions of unborn children of less than 24 weeks gestation, without consulting a medical practitioner. From 25 weeks up to birth they can do so if under the supervision of a medical practitioner and if they work in a hospital, and they must do so only if the doctor claims that it is an emergency.

The bishops write that the new abortion law now creates a hypocrisy in hospitals where some children have the benefit of all the resources of modern technology and care to save their lives, while others are legally killed.

“A certain kind of hypocrisy now prevails in hospitals. In one room a premature baby will be saved with great effort and the best technology. In another room an unborn infant, perhaps older than the premature baby, can be killed with impunity.”

“Every human life deserves our reverence, love and respect,” the statement declares. “From the beginning of human history, we have not been free to kill the innocent.”

Reaffirming the Catholic Church's teaching on the sanctity of all life, the Victoria bishops state, “The Catholic Church clearly teaches that direct abortion involves the taking of innocent human life and is always wrong.”

The bishops also point out that the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 overrides the conscientious objection of nurses, and requires doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion to refer a woman seeking abortion to another doctor who does not.

As a result, “Laws such as the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights because the theory of human rights is based on the affirmation that the human person cannot be subjected to domination by others.”

“Victoria has therefore not merely 'decriminalised' abortion,” the statement contends, “but has overseen the implementation of one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world.”

The bishops state that medical regulations are yet to be issued that would clarify the legal implications of the Act for doctors and nurses, and question the legality of state coercion forcing them to participate in abortion.

“The legality of this coercion is open to question,” the bishops say. “The medical profession is corrupted when doctors and nurses are entangled in the taking of innocent life, either by abortion or euthanasia both of which are strongly promoted by elements in the media and some politicians.”

“The Catholic Church will continue to pray and to work to overturn the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria and to better protect women from being coerced to accept abortion as a necessary evil,” the statement concludes.

The full text of the Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Victoria is available here.

Read previous LSN coverage:

Victoria, Australia Decriminalises Abortion: Criminalises Doctors' Consciences


Commenting Guidelines
LifeSiteNews welcomes thoughtful, respectful comments that add useful information or insights. Demeaning, hostile or propagandistic comments, and streams not related to the storyline, will be removed.

LSN commenting is not for frequent personal blogging, on-going debates or theological or other disputes between commenters.

Multiple comments from one person under a story are discouraged (suggested maximum of three). Capitalized sentences or comments will be removed (Internet shouting).

LifeSiteNews gives priority to pro-life, pro-family commenters and reserves the right to edit or remove comments.

Comments under LifeSiteNews stories do not necessarily represent the views of LifeSiteNews.