Weekend Wrap for 3 August 2019

As the issues of abortion rights and voluntary assisted dying have been hot topics across the country this past week, they feature heavily in this edition of the Weekend Wrap.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of news, is also published on our Facebook page!

The National View

Protests are planned for Sydney today against the discrimination exemptions that allow religious institutions to force out teachers or students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status (Star Observer).

Baptist minister Tim Costello has again taken aim at prominent Christian voices such as Lyle Shelton for being driven by fear and for having an unfounded belief that Christians are being persecuted in Australia (ABC).

Israel Folau has commenced court action against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs, with a directions hearing set for August 13 in the Federal Circuit Court. It follows an unsuccessful attempt at mediation at the Fair Work Commission (ABC).

Josiah Folau, the cousin of rugby player Israel, was reportedly dismissed from his job at a Catholic school for expressing his personal religious views that the church was a “synagogue of Satan” (The Guardian).

The mother who went public about her concerns that Israel Folau’s beliefs were radical has said she felt compelled to do so after initially raising her concerns through the Australian Christian Lobby and being unsatisfied with its response (SMH).

Around the Country

NSW: The push to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales moved a step closer on Thursday, as Independent MP Alex Greenwich introduced the cross-party Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill to the lower house (9 News).

NSW: Religious lobbyists are preparing to ramp up their campaign against proposed legislation to decriminalise abortion, with MPs expecting to be inundated from pro-choice and anti-abortion groups ahead of a vote (SMH).

WA: Pressure is mounting on Opposition Leader Liza Harvey to allow a free vote on voluntary assisted dying, as new polling shows almost 70 per cent of Liberal Party supporters back the change (West Australian).

WA: Voluntary assisted dying advocate Belinda Teh will soon complete a walk from Melbourne to Perth in memory of her mother and in an effort to build public support for VAD as the state's parliament considers introducing legislation (9 News).

QLD: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk believes Queenslanders "have to at least talk about" (voluntary assisted dying)” before any legislation is introduced into parliament (Courier Mail).

TAS: As mandatory reporting legislation passed the lower house this week, a survivor group slammed the Catholic Church in Tasmania for continuing to oppose the introduction of laws making it mandatory for religious ministers to report information about child abuse disclosed in confession (Canberra Times).

VIC: Rank-and-file Catholics are demanding explanations after an invitation to a reformist American nun, Sister Joan Chittister, to speak at the 2020 National Catholic Education Conference in Melbourne was mysteriously rescinded (SMH).

VIC: A victim of clergy sexual abuse who is pursuing civil damages from the Catholic Church in the Victorian Supreme Court has been asked by the church to provide a copy of the church’s own rules in Latin (The Courier).

Commentary and Analysis

Helen Pringle explores why decriminalisation of abortion has taken so long, arguing that the blame rests with reluctant politicians who have remained out of step with Australian voters (The Conversation).

New South Wales Senator Mehreen Faruqi recalls the anger and pain of her earlier attempts to have abortion decriminalised when she was a member of the state’s upper house. With the introduction of a cross-party bill, she says the time is now right (The Guardian).

Peter FitzSimons wonders why the vocal supporters of Israel Folau are suddenly nowhere to be seen in standing up for the religious freedom of Josiah Folau, who lost his job at a Catholic school for expressing his religious views (SMH).

That's it for another week!

For ongoing news and updates, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook. And if you are able, please consider making a small monthly contribution to the NSL to help us raise the secular profile in Australia. Every dollar helps!