A female doctor has sparked a heated debate online after her clinic stated she will refuse to offer prescriptions for contraception or provide IVF, abortion and vasectomy consultations for patients.
The Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic about 100km southwest of Melbourne has placed a notice outside its clinic informing its patients Dr Hong Nguyen will not be offering the health care treatments ‘effective immediately’.
The note confirmed the GP will no longer be involved in prescriptions for the contraceptive pill, mini pill, morning after pill, birth control implant, handout referrals for sterilisation or consultations relating to abortions, IVF or vasectomies.
After the note started circulating on social media, Australians were extremely divided over the controversial stance, with many describing it as an ‘absolute joke’, while others said they didn’t see what the fuss was about.
Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic in southwest of Melbourne placed a notice outside its clinic informing its patients Dr Hong Nguyen will not be offering prescriptions for contraception or provide IVF, abortion or vasectomy consultations
Animal Justice Party’s Andy Meddick said he was appalled to see the sign in his Torquay town
The Animal Justice Party’s Andy Meddick, the MP for the electorate the clinic operates in, said he was appalled to see the sign in his home town of Torquay.
‘Shocked to see this in my town. Yes, legal. But likely emboldened by Religious Discrimination Bill,’ Mr Meddick said on Twitter.
‘Federal MPs must vote it down – or lives and safety will be at risk. This is reproductive healthcare and nobody should ever be denied it.’
Under the federal government’s proposed religious discrimination laws, doctors and pharmacists could refuse to provide or to participate in certain medical treatments or procedures based on a ‘conscientious objection’.
Dr Chris Moy of the Australian Medical Association said while the clinic’s sign informing patients about the doctor not doing a particular procedure is ‘legal’, the proposed discrimination laws have created confusion.
‘Basically, we need to take a step back. When you sign up to be a doctor, we have a code of ethics and professional standards – and one of the key things is having responsibility for our patients,’ Dr Moy told Daily Mail Australia.
Australian Medical Association’s Dr Chris Moy (pictured) said while doctors are entitled to have their own personal beliefs and values, they still have a duty of care to patients
‘Now the problem is this legislation is a crude tool. We have this law that says you have this consent but the law says “I can walk away” if you have an objection to something like a deeply religious belief.
‘[But] it confuses and creates a lower bar when compared to professional standards and ethics, and the flow and affects in terms of how the fabric of the current health system where there is a balance between doctors’ rights to conscientiously object, and their requirement to always be there for the patient.
‘We have an obligation to the patient and not abandon them. We actually have to be able to make sure that we don’t impede their care, and to facilitate them.
‘We’re pretty unhappy about [legislation]. What AMA is concerned about is how the conscientious objection is undermining the professional standards. Patients trust me as a doctor so I’m not going to let them down.’
In response to the public backlash, the Torquay clinic has issued a statement defending its stance, saying its medical practitioners, nurses and reception staff ‘provides care to everyone regardless of beliefs, religion or political views or cultures’.
In a statement, the Torquay clinic defended its decision, saying its medical practitioners, nurses and reception staff ‘provides care to everyone regardless of beliefs, religion or political views or cultures’
Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic’s full statement
There has been recent misleading posts about our clinics being circulated on social media.
We want to clear up this misinformation by stating we do support Women’s Health and the rights of women to make their own health decisions. The information that is being shared about the practice is incorrect.
Our community has many different religions, different personal views on Culture, Conduct, Political opinion from one side to the other and we do not discriminate in the healthcare of these patients. We try to navigate this by a diverse team which enables the freedom of choice to our patients for their GP.
Our practice sits in the middle, a group of people who are medical practitioners, nurses and reception staff that together between all of us provides care to everyone who needs it, regardless of beliefs, religion or political views or cultures. We are a diverse team that cares for everyone who uses our clinic. No different to going to a specialist for different aspects of health such as Cardiology versus Oncology, some GP’s specialise in aspects of medicine, and others don’t. Whether this is from any type of personal view or for cultural or religious reasons, the practice as a group ensure we are diverse and cover all healthcare for Women, Men, Children, all religions and the LGBTQ community.
We care deeply for the health of our patients and community and to suggest otherwise is defamatory and wrong. Our practice does everything they can to help improve the health in our community – to ALL of our patients, no matter your political view, your religion, your race or your culture or your personal beliefs.
To facilitate this care we have removed our page from social media as the abusive comments from these posts were not appropriate for us to try to prove otherwise.
To everyone in the Community who actually knows us and supports us and the work we do in the healthcare sector, please accept our thank-you for this support and we will endeavour to continue to provide the diverse inclusive care to ALL of our patients.
– The Team at Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic
‘We want to clear up this misinformation by stating we do support women’s health and the rights of women to make their own health decisions,’ the statement read.
‘Our community has many different religions, different personal views on culture, conduct, political opinion from one side to the other.
‘We try to navigate this by a diverse team which enables the freedom of choice to our patients for their GP… We are a diverse team that between us cares for everyone who uses our clinic.
‘Our practice does everything they can to help improve the health in our community – to ALL of our patients, no matter your political view, your religion, your race or your culture or your personal beliefs.’
The clinic has since been forced to shut down its social media page after recieving an onslaught of ‘abusive comments’.
Many furious people urged the doctor to ‘find another profession’ while others suggested ‘boycotting’ the medical centre.
‘Why be a GP if you can’t fulfill your full role?’ one woman said.
‘Medicine is too important to people’s lives to trust someone whose first allegiance is to their religion, at the expense of their patients,’ another said.
One woman said: ‘I can’t believe this is happening in this day and age (and in my neighbourhood). Free speech gone too far.’
And another said: ‘If a doctor is unable to provide and practice healthcare then they are unable to be a doctor.’
Despite the backlash, many people jumped to the clinic’s defence, saying they didn’t see any problem over the doctor’s refusal.
Multiple women said they would rather the doctor be ‘upfront’ than have to sit in the waiting room, only to be told they can’t get a prescription or referral during the appointment.
‘I have seen doctors in the past that have had objections to these types of things and as long as it’s known prior to booking, I don’t have a huge issue with it,’ one said.
Another commented: ‘It’s not shaming anybody. It’s simply stating that the doctor won’t perform procedures and to re-book with another doctor. What’s the issue here? No need to make mountains out of molehills.’
Another said: ‘This doesn’t bother me. Like there are lots of other doctors to pick, why would you want to use this one anyway?’
And one said: ‘As long as there’s an alternative practitioner in the centre I wouldn’t have a problem. I prefer that they are up front and you don’t have to have an uncomfortable conversation feeling judged if you didn’t know about their beliefs.’