Improved access to abortion moves a step closer in South Australia. That and more in the latest Weekend Wrap of secular news and views.
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At the National Level
The Australian Catholic Bishops are urging church schools to increase the numbers of Catholic students, with Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher lamenting how the "secularisation" of society has resulted in a lack of “connection” of students with the Catholic Church outside of school (Catholic Leader).
The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the development of a bill by Nationals MP George Christensen to require health practitioners to administer medical care or treatment to babies born alive during an abortion.
Around the Country
SA: Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has welcomed as a “historic day” for South Australia women the passing in the state’s lower house of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, decriminalising abortion and allowing for later-term pregnancies to be terminated under special conditions (The Australian).
SA: Tensions within the Liberal Party over the abortion debate erupted on social media, with federal conservative MP Nicolle Flint accusing the state’s Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink as being patronising for having encouraged state colleagues to show "compassion and respect" in voting in support of the bill (ABC).
TAS: At a community vigil outside Parliament House, Independent MLC Mike Gaffney urged members of the lower house to listen to the wishes of more than 85% of the public and vote in support of his voluntary assisted dying bill (The Mercury).
TAS: Catholic Health Australia is seeking an urgent meeting with Premier Peter Gutwein to have major amendments made to Tasmania’s voluntary assisted dying legislation at the 11th hour (The Australian).
NT: The Council of the Ageing for the Northern Territory has launched a petition calling on the federal government to allow the territory’s legislature to enact laws dealing with voluntary assisted dying.
VIC: In welcoming the arrival of the first doses of coronavirus vaccines in Australia, Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli has called for respect to be shown toward people who, for “medical, safety or moral reasons, are not ready to receive a vaccination immediately” (CathNews).
NSW: Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher called for religious belief to be respected and protected after ads for an LGBT event being held in the council-owned forecourt of St Mary’s Cathedral showed an image of the cathedral (ABC).
VIC: Australian Christian Lobby head Martyn Iles has called for Christian voters to remove Dan Andrews at the state’s 2022 election, citing a long list of the Premier’s policies as proof of an anti-Christian agenda (Out in Perth).
Commentary and Analysis
The churches can keep raising their concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine but they long ago forfeited the right to play a significant part in any national conversation or to lecture about moral and ethical issues, writes Garry Linnell, the former director of news and current affairs for the Nine Network (The New Daily).
In an interview with Benjamin Law reflecting on her time in parliament, former Independent MP Cathy McGowan says that Scott Morrison’s handling of the refugee issue made her realise that, for some members of parliament, “Christianity [means] punishment – and a vindictive God” (SMH).
The ban on legislating for voluntary assisted dying in the Australian Capital Territory means that Canberra residents are being denied basic democratic rights, writes Ben Oquist of The Australia Institute (Canberra Times).