Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Australia, has warned Catholic hospitals might be forced to shut their maternity and emergency wards.

The reason: A bill now being debated in the state legislature that would force hospitals to perform abortions or refer patients who request them to other institutions that will.

Archbishop Hart said yesterday, “In the worst-case scenario, if a government is determined to enforce such laws, we have no option. We might get out of hospitals altogether.”

The proposed law has already been passed by the lower house of the state of Victoria’s legislature. It is currently being debated in the upper house.

Melbourne’s archbishop has written to all state legislators asking them to reject the bill, which he said “makes a mockery” of state law that protects the right of health professionals to act in accordance with their consciences.

In related news, Archbishop Hart opened a Pregnancy Assistance Center in his archdiocese Oct. 8.

Speaking at the opening, Archbishop Hart warned, “At a time when our State parliamentarians are debating changes to our abortion laws … One may be forgiven for suggesting that to live in the womb or old age should be considered endangered areas.”

— Tom McFeely