Calvary battle is crucial

In what has been described as an ideologically based land-and-assets grab, the ACT Government has announced that it would compulsorily acquire Calvary Hospital, a public hospital owned and operated by Calvary Health Care, a Catholic provider of health care services.

The takeover is set to be rushed through parliament, with a majority of members agreeing to dispense with the normal parliamentary inquiry that precedes a debate and vote on legislation. 

The ACT Government insists that the takeover of Calvary is not religiously motivated, but many commentators have pointed out that the push to change operator has connections to the hospital’s pro-life stance.

As Father Tony Percy, chair of the Calvary taskforce wrote in The Australian:

“In 2022, the ACT government conducted an inquiry into the availability of abortion in the ACT. The ACT Standing Committee Health Report was released on 10 April 2023. Astoundingly, the report accuses Calvary of restricting “medical services” “due to an overriding religious ethos”.”

This isn’t just about abortion. Father Percy continues:

Who is next? What other community groups are under threat in the ACT? Clare Holland House is one of the most revered institutions in the ACT. It provides superb palliative care under the umbrella of Calvary Hospital.”

With the ACT poised to introduce the country’s most expansive euthanasia and assisted suicide laws, there is a real likelihood that a compulsory acquisition of Clare Holland House (and any other nursing or palliative institution) is next on the list, particularly if the acquisition of Calvary Hospital is successful.

The euthanasia and assisted suicide element to this was articulated by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher:

“It’s no secret that the ACT Government want to force Calvary Hospital to provide abortions now, and euthanasia and assisted suicide in the future… Taking the land, buildings and hospital equipment and transferring staff employment across to Canberra Health Services allows them to push their anti-life agenda right through the hospital.”

Archbishop Fisher also warned that if the ACT Government is successful, “it could serve as a blueprint for other governments as well.”

Federal Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton, also called out the ideological basis of the move:

“I’m just not aware of an action like it elsewhere in the country or, frankly, around the world, where a government has taken a decision based on their opposition to a religion, or to compulsorily acquire a hospital in these circumstances, a facility that’s working well, and in the greater public interest, and good in a local community, and just for ideological reasons.” 

While a lot remains unclear about the Calvary situation, the one thing that is clear is that it is a new frontier for governments opposed to the protection of human life. 

This is why our fight for life remains all important, even in jurisdictions where the law has changed.