Friday, October 11, 2013

Australian Doctor Could Be Fired For Refusing To Abort Baby Girl

Australian doctor Mark Hobart might be losing his job after refusing to perform a sex-selective abortion.

A woman who was nearly five months pregnant came to Melbourne doctor Mark Hobart seeking an abortion on her unborn baby girl because her husband did not want a daughter. Hobart refused to perform the abortion, saying he had a moral dilemma over performing an abortion on an otherwise-healthy girl. He refused to refer the couple to another doctor, as he is legally required to do under Australia’s Abortion Law Reform Act 2008, claiming he did not know a doctor who would be willing to perform an abortion for sex selection reasons.

As a result of his refusal to perform the abortion or to refer the couple, Hobart has been under investigation by the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for months. He is now at risk of being stripped of his medical license. Hobart has been practicing medicine for 27 years.

Abortion is legal in Australia until 24 weeks gestation. The woman in question was 19 weeks pregnant, and got an abortion a few days after being denied one by Hobart.

According to Hobart, the woman requesting the abortion was of Indian descent. India has one of the worst sex ratios in the world: for every thousand male births, only 893 females are born. In some areas of the country, the ratio is as low as 751 female births for every thousand male births.

An act that would ban the practice of sex-selection abortions in the United States was rejected in the House of Representatives last year.


Banned painkiller sold under names of Di-Gesic and Doloxene to remain on sale in Australia

I have used Di-gesic for post-operative pain and found it ideal.  I was most put out when it was banned

A controversial painkiller which has been banned in several countries will still be sold in Australia.

In 2011, the Therapeutic Goods Administration de-listed painkillers sold under the brand names Di-Gesic and Doloxene, saying "the safety of those medicines was unacceptable".

There were concerns about the medication as it can cause heart arrhythmias and death in high doses.

But drug manufacturer Aspen Pharmaceuticals took to the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). It ruled that the drugs could be sold under strict conditions.

In a statement, the Therapeutic Goods Administration says it will not seek leave to appeal the AAT decision.

Medical experts say caution should be used when administering the drug, particularly with the elderly and with patients who may also be using tranquillisers, antidepressants or excess alcohol.

Under the new arrangements, doctors and dentists will need to sign a form when prescribing the drugs, confirming they are only available for patients who cannot be treated with other analgesics and who understand the restrictions placed on the drug.

They must also be convinced that the patient is not at risk of accidental or intentional self-harm.

Pharmacists who want to dispense the drug must also fulfil special requirements.

Some patients had lobbied for the drug to remain on the market, saying it is the only medication that gives them good pain relief.

But emergency physicians in Australia had asked for the drug to be withdrawn.

In a submission to the TGA, the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) says "emergency physicians are acutely aware of the toxicity of this agent".

It says there is insufficient evidence to accept that products containing including Di-Gesic and Doloxene can be used safely for the relief of pain.

ACEM spokeswoman Dr Sally McCarthy wrote in the submission that there are no adequate measures that have been identified to sufficiently minimise the safety issues posed by the drugs.

"The medications have been associated with numerous deaths in the UK and has a high abuse potential," she said.


High Court backs people smuggler laws

THE High Court has upheld the validity of mandatory prison terms for convicted people smugglers.

The case, brought by the crew member of a boat carrying 52 asylum seekers in 2010, was seen as a test case for mandatory sentencing.

The court, by a majority, ruled the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence was not inconsistent with the institutional integrity of the courts and did not involve the imposition of an arbitrary sentence.

The court ruled the mandatory sentencing provision in the Migration Act was lawful, saying it was not beyond the legislative power of the Commonwealth parliament and did not confer judicial power on prosecuting authorities.

Bonan Darius Magaming appealed his five-year imprisonment, the mandatory minimum sentence, after being convicted of an aggravated form of people smuggling.

He argued that in circumstances where prosecuting authorities could choose between a charge that carried a mandatory minimum sentence and one that did not, they wrongly exercised judicial power.

The court held that although prosecuting authorities had a choice, it did not involve an exercise of judicial power or confer an ability to determine the punishment to be imposed for the same conduct.


Same-sex marriage law High Court challenge confirmed

The ACT government has vowed to fight an Abbott government challenge in the High Court to the territory's same-sex marriage laws.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said on Thursday the government believed its laws were valid and "attempts to stymie, block or prevent reform will only lead to an even greater impetus for it".

Attorney-General George Brandis described the territory laws on Thursday as "a threat" to the "well-established position" that marriage laws should be nationally consistent and were the domain of the Commonwealth.

Senator Brandis informed the ACT government of the legal challenge in a phone call on Wednesday night before confirming the move at a meeting of state and territory attorneys-general on Thursday.

The ACT government says it will "robustly defend" its laws, which are expected to pass at the October sitting of the ACT Legislative Assembly with the support of all eight Labor MLAs and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury.

The federal government will ask for an expedited High Court hearing and has called on the ACT government not to pass its laws until their constitutional validity is tested. Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said on Twitter that the ACT government had declined that request.

"It would be very distressing to individuals who may enter into a ceremony of marriage under the new ACT law, and to their families, to find that their marriages were invalid," Senator Brandis said.

He said the advice of the acting federal Solicitor-General was that the ACT's marriage equality bill was invalid because it was inconsistent with the Commonwealth Marriage Act.

"Irrespective of anyone's views on the desirability or otherwise of same-sex marriage, it is clearly in Australia's interests that there be nationally consistent marriage laws," he said.

"At the moment, the Commonwealth Marriage Act provides that consistency. The ACT's proposed law is a threat to that well-established position. It has been understood for more than half a century that there is a single Commonwealth law governing marriage in Australia. The Abbott government believes that that should continue to be the case."

Mr Corbell said on Thursday: "I'm not surprised but I'm disappointed that there is a failure to acknowledge that this fundamental matter of inequality needs to be addressed.

"Attempts to stymie, block or prevent reform will only lead to an even greater impetus for it," he said.

Mr Corbell said there "are still battles to be fought" and reiterated the ACT government's intention to "robustly defend our law in the court". "The Commonwealth have confirmed … that they will be commencing legal proceedings in the High Court once our laws become operational," Mr Corbell said. "They argue it's inconsistent. I indicated the territory's view, legal advice and the advice of other constitutional law experts differed from that and we will be robustly defend our law in the court."

Mr Corbell said Coalition-aligned state and territory governments had indicated they would support the federal position.

He said that included NSW, whose same-sex marriage bill served as the basis for the territory's legislation.

Mr Corbell said the federal government would assert that its view of marriage covers all aspects of that matter and that it was not open to states and territories to legislate for same-sex marriage. "We assert that our bill is capable of concurrent operation and is therefore not inconsistent."

A Tasmanian Institute of Law Reform report on same-sex marriage, published on Thursday, concluded there was "no legal impediment to states enacting marriage laws" because marriage powers were shared by the states and the federal government.

The report said it was uncertain whether a High Court challenge to same-sex marriage laws would succeed.

The report's author, Amelia Higgs, said the study "clearly dispelled the idea that the states can't do this".

She said the outcome of a High Court challenge would come down to whether or not "the states can enact a marriage power that doesn't clash with the Commonwealth".

"I think what some people don't realise, or conveniently forget, is that opposite-sex marriage used to be regulated by the states," Miss Higgs said. "It wouldn't be an unusual thing for the states to be the ones to get the ball rolling [for same-sex marriage]".

Mr Corbell said the report showed that the validity of the ACT laws was "a contested and open question".

"There is just as much prospect that our law will be found to be valid as there is that it will be found to be invalid," he said.

"No one can be certain what the High Court will decide."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What would it take to disband the ACT government?... really they are just a jumped up local council run by exactly the sort of people who shouldn't (like most local councils).

I still don't see why the ACT should have its own government.