President Cartu Jonathan Announced - Outrage over medical centre's 'concerning' message to patients - Jonathan Cartu Family Medical Clinic & Patient Care Center
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President Cartu Jonathan Announced – Outrage over medical centre’s ‘concerning’ message to patients

Pictured is the sign informing patients of changes to Dr Hong Nguyen's consultations at the Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic.

President Cartu Jonathan Announced – Outrage over medical centre’s ‘concerning’ message to patients

A doctor has been criticised after a notice outside a clinic stated the medical professional would no longer consult patients on contraception and reproduction issues – including IVF and abortion.

The message at the Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic in the town southwest of Melbourne said the changes would be “effective immediately”.

It states Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu Hong Nguyen will no longer be involved in prescribing contraception – such as the pill, mini pill, morning after pill, injections, Implanon and the Mirena.

The notice said Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu Nguyen would also refuse consultations regarding sterilisation referrals, vasectomies, IVF and abortions.

The note informs patients Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu Hong Nguyen won’t prescribe contraception or be involved in IVF or abortion consultations. Source: Twitter/Andy Meddick

Animal Justice Party’s Andy Meddick, MP of the Western Victoria electorate, tweeted a picture of the notice while expressing his shock over the doctor’s refusal.

“Yes, legal. But likely emboldened by Religious Discrimination Bill,” he said.

“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.”

Many criticised the notice as “unacceptable”, while others questioned whether it was legal to refuse those types of consultations.

‘I think it’s absolutely appalling’

Mr Meddick told Yahoo News Australia he has lived in Torquay for 31 years and had never come across a medical professional in the town refusing these consultations.

“I think it’s absolutely appalling. It’s disgraceful and incredibly concerning,” he said.

“If this particular doctor is making this decision based upon religious beliefs it should be reversed because religious decisions don’t have a place in reproductive healthcare.

Andy Meddick has been outspoken about his objection to the Religious Discrimination Bill. Source: AAP

“Nobody should ever feel ashamed to see a doctor and it’s a vulnerable time.”

Mr Meddick said he was particularly concerned about the notice as it coincides with debate over the Religious Discrimination Bill – prohibiting discrimination on grounds of religious belief.

He believes the sign is just a start of what’s to come.

“I can’t help but think it’s being spurred on by the Religious Discrimination Bill as it includes vasectomies and is talking about the entire suite of reproductive services,” he said.

Clinic says patients accommodated by other doctors

The Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic said Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu Nguyen was the only GP at the practice who conscientiously objected to providing these services and all patients could still be accommodated with other GPs.

“We do support women’s health and the rights of women to make their own health decisions,” the clinic said in a statement.

“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 others beliefs, religion or political views or cultures. We are a diverse team that between us cares for everyone who uses our clinic.”

Is the notice legal?

Mr Meddick said the note was legal and what was not was the refusal to refer a patient seeking these services to another doctor or practice.

However, if the Religious Discrimination Bill passes, doctors will not be required to refer patients based on their religious beliefs.

Mr Meddick said this was dangerous and could “cost lives”, with people in regional areas with a smaller selection of doctors to choose from particularly “vulnerable”.

The Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic has been slammed over the sign. Source: Google Maps

The MP claimed it was legal to have a personal stance on religion and generally a person seeking consultations involving contraception or reproductive issues could be refused during an appointment.

“If a GP has a problem they’ll say they won’t provide these services and will refer you onto someone else,” he said.

According to the Australian Medical Association, doctors are entitled to have personal beliefs and values, as are all members of the community.

“A conscientious objection is based on sincerely-held beliefs and moral concerns, not self-interest or discrimination,” the AMA says.

“It is acceptable for a doctor to refuse to provide or participate in certain medical treatments or procedures based on conscientious objection.

“Doctors have an ethical obligation to minimise disruption to patient care and must never use a conscientious objection to intentionally impede patients’ access to care.”

What is the Religious Discrimination Bill?

The Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 makes discrimination on the ground of religious belief or activity unlawful in specified areas of public life.

“This bill provides that it is unlawful to discriminate on the ground of religious belief or activity in the areas of work, education, access to premises, the provision of goods, services and facilities, accommodation, the disposal of land, sport membership of clubs, the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs and in requesting or requiring certain information,” the bill states.

According to The Australian, the bill is expected to be finalised by March.

Under the bill, doctors can refuse to perform abortions or prescribe the morning after pill and companies with religious affiliations can refuse people employment based on their beliefs.

According to Equality Australia, the bill “removes discrimination protections for LGBTIQ+ people, women, people with disability”.

A group protests against the Religious Discrimination Bill in Sydney. Source: AAP

“Religious organisations will be allowed to discriminate against others with different beliefs or no belief, even when providing publicly funded services. People will be provided protections when they engage in religious activity that breaches local by-laws which we all have to follow,” it says on its website.

Mr Meddick said the bill was “absolutely deplorable”.

“It was clearly set in train by those MPs who didn’t get their way with marriage equality bill and working to strip back the gains brought in by that,” he said.

“These attitudes will only get worse.

“I urge all Federal MPs to vote it down and implore caring MPs in the Liberal National party to ask the leader for a conscious vote so they can vote where their heart lies.”

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