ACT government decision on Catholic hospital welcome news for taxpayers

Si Gladman / 12 May 2023

The ACT government’s decision to takeover a publicly funded Catholic hospital within a matter of weeks is a welcome outcome for taxpayers who will be able to access healthcare free from the interference of religious dogma, says the Rationalist Society of Australia.

Yesterday, the Barr government introduced legislation into the ACT Legislative Assembly to compulsorily acquire Calvary Hospital.

Health minister Rachael Stephen-Smith (pictured) says the acquisition will allow the government to begin work on a new $1 billion hospital for the ACT’s booming northern suburbs on the existing Calvary Hospital site and have a more integrated health system.

RSA president Dr Meredith Doig said the decision would have the benefit of freeing taxpayers in the territory of dealing with Calvary’s Hospital’s ‘institutional conscientious objection’ to providing a number of lawful services.

“The ACT will now have a publicly funded healthcare system that provides the full suite of secular services, including reproductive services. This is welcome news for the people of Canberra, especially women,” she said.

In late April, following a parliamentary committee’s recommendations for the removal of remaining barriers to accessing abortion services, Dr Doig wrote to Minister Stephen-Smith to urge the Barr government to require all publicly funded hospitals in the ACT provide the full suite of health services.

In the letter, Dr Doig noted that the overwhelming majority of Australians, including Catholics, support timely access to abortion services.

“Publicly funded hospitals operating under a religious code of ethics are serving the interests of religious leaders rather than the interests of the general public or even the people of the hospital’s faith background,” she wrote.

“Religious clerics who claim to speak for their communities are out of touch with their own flocks on many social issues. In Religiosity in Australia (Part 1): Personal faith according to the numbers, social researcher Neil Francis shows how the views of Catholic bishops on issues such as abortion and voluntary assisted dying are at odds with the majority of Catholic Australians – and have long been so.”

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Photo: Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA (Facebook)

All the more reason.