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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
Patients should always be able to access medical practitioners without obstruction or fear, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today in releasing its reaction to the State Government’s discussion paper on ‘safe access zones’ around premises that provide abortion services.
“Everyone has the right to access health care and the AMA (WA) supports the introduction of safe access zones around such premises,” AMA (WA) President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
Some individuals or organisations have in the past engaged in protests or “sidewalk counselling” outside health facilities, in a deliberate effort to stop or discourage women seeking access to such services and advice.
“The WA Government has an obligation to ensure that any patient accessing abortion services should be able to do so without obstruction, embarrassment or harassment,” Dr Khorshid said.
The AMA (WA) submission also notes that while medical practitioners should not be expected to participate in clinical or research activities that conflict with their personal convictions, a medical practitioner who chooses to provide such services should not be subject to discrimination or stigmatisation because they choose to do so.
“All staff who work at healthcare facilities should be able to do so without fear of attack, hindrance or embarrassment,” he said.
The AMA (WA) submission also proposes that the State Government consider applying “safe access zones” to specific areas that include patient and staff access points, including pedestrian routes to health care facilities from nearby public transport such as bus stops and train stations.
“We believe that the effective implementation of ‘safe access zones’ should proscribe all behaviour which could obstruct or impede access to healthcare facilities and healthcare services, or that stigmatise patients and healthcare workers,” Dr Khorshid said.
“Safe and unimpeded access to medical services is a basic right that must be protected and laws providing such protection should be passed by State Parliament at the first opportunity,” he said.
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