Via the indefatigable Wesley J. Smith comes a disturbing report of a new pro-abortion, anti-conscience law moving forward in Tasmania. I do not know how likely it is to pass. The first part is similar to a law concerning abortion that passed in Victoria, which I discussed here, and to a law concerning euthanasia that has recently been recommended by a government-appointed commission in Quebec.
This first part directly attacks the conscience of doctors opposed to abortion by requiring them, on penalty of a fine, to refer the patient to a doctor who will do the deed. See my further discussion of referrals, here.
But there's more: The Tasmania law also says that counselors who are opposed to abortion and from whom a pregnant woman has sought advice must refer the woman to a different counselor who is known to be not thus opposed!
Here is how the law defines "counselor":
counsellor means a person who provides a service that involves counselling whether or not for fee or reward;
Smith is, plausibly enough, of the opinion that this would apply to those who work even as volunteers for Crisis Pregnancy Centers and hence would "obliterate pro-life crisis pregnancy counseling."
Even insofar as the law applies to professional counselors, those with counseling licenses who are working with a pregnant woman officially in their professional capacity, this is disturbing enough. It is yet another attempt to undermine the helping professions by forcing those in them to offer material cooperation with lifestyle decisions (including, in this case, murderous ones) preferred by the leftists.
But as the law applies to volunteers as well, we've entered wholly new territory. Volunteer pregnancy counselors are essentially just private people devoting themselves to trying to help pregnant women in their spare time. It is difficult to see any principled distinction between regulating what such an entirely non-professional person says to a woman in a private conversation and regulating what the woman's aunt, mother, or friend says to her in a private conversation. The law is explicit that such a referral must take place "if a woman seeks pregnancy options advice from a counsellor and the counsellor has conscientious objections to terminations." So if a woman deliberately seeks out and goes to a center calling itself "Alternatives Crisis Pregnancy Center" and offering explicitly in its advertising to help a woman to find alternatives to abortion, the counselors there would be obligated by this law, on pain of a fine, to round off their personal conversation with her by offering her a referral to a pro-abortion counselor! This despite the fact that the whole raison d'etre of the center is to try to save babies from abortion.
The depersonalization of the helping professions themselves is already disturbing. We used to be able to sit down and talk with a doctor and get an honest opinion in a personal fashion. Doctors did not ask us questions irrelevant to what we are seeing them for and then say, "We have to ask you this, because it's part of federal regulations." They do now. In other words, the personal nature of the professional-patient relationship has been undermined a good deal. This law, by tackling all those who "offer the service" of counseling a pregnant woman, even volunteers, takes us yet further into the realm of direct, purely ideological, government regulation of ordinary interpersonal conversation. That the reason for this is to make sure that all women, whether abortion-minded or desperately seeking alternatives to abortion, are definitely put in touch with an abortion-minded counselor gives us yet another window into the minds of the pro-abortion left. I would note that there is no similar requirement that a counselor or doctor who personally favors abortion must put a woman in touch with a counselor or doctor who opposes it. That puts paid to any pretense of "giving her all her options." There is one option, and one option only, that the lawmakers want to guarantee is not slighted--the option to abort.
It goes without saying that if this abominable law passes, all doctors and affected people of good will should engage in civil disobedience and defy it. However, I fear that it will provide a pretext for shutting down Crisis Pregnancy Centers simply as such unless they can prove that they offer the horrible referrals required by the law. In other words, even purely persuasive attempts to prevent abortion could easily be forcibly terminated by the enforcement of this law. Crisis Pregnancy Centers do save many babies and prevent many abortions, and the devotees of Moloch just can't allow that.
May the consciences of the lawmakers in Tasmania awaken and put a stop to this legislation.