How Can You Tell if Your Health Provider is a ‘Conscientious Objector’?
If you are looking for a new GP:
Before you make an appointment with a new GP, check the chart on this page to see if your prospective doctor is listed.
If your prospective GP is not listed, you are still not out of the woods.
When you call the doctor’s office for an appointment, ask
“Are there any services the doctor refuses to perform because of a conscientious objection?”
The receptionist might not know what services you mean. Explain to them that you are concerned you might someday need abortion referral, contraception, or sterilisation.
If the receptionist says the doctor provides those services, write down the date, time, name of the receptionist you spoke to, and what they said. You might need it later.
If the receptionist says they do not provide some or all of those services, and those services are important to you, say thanks and goodbye.
If the receptionist does not know, but suggests you come in for an appointment to speak with the doctor and find out, tell them you don’t want to waste your time and money to find out, and can they please ask about the conscientious objection and let you know? If they refuse to do that, perhaps you should treat that response as confirmation they refuse services, and try another doctor.
…But when you meet the doctor for the first consultation, ask again, just to confirm
“Are there any services you refuse to perform because of a conscientious objection?”
If they say yes, tell them their receptionist said they did not refuse to provide those services, and you made the appointment on that basis. Say that because the receptionist gave you the wrong information, you are going to leave now, and you expect that you will not be charged for this consultation, because if you had been given the correct information you would never have made the appointment.
If they make you pay for the consultation, you can make a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner. The information you wrote down about your conversation with the receptionist will help. Contact us here at ALRANZ if you need or want help making a complaint.
If they do not make you pay for the consultation, you might want to make a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner anyway, because the incorrect information the receptionist gave you caused you to waste your time.
If you already have a GP, but you don’t know where they stand on conscientious objection:
If reproductive health care has never come up for you with your GP, you might have no idea about their position until you ask. So next time you see your GP, ask them
“If I needed an abortion referral, would you refer me or do you have a conscientious objection? If I wanted contraception or a sterilisation, would you provide that?”
If they say yes, write down the date, time, place, and what the doctor said. You might need it later. Ask them to make a note in your chart that you asked about it today.
If they say no, they would not refer you, you will have to decide how important that is to you and whether you want to continue seeing that GP.
If later the GP refuses a service they told you they provided, you can make a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner, because they misled you to believe they would provide these services, and their refusal caused you stress and waste of time and money finding another doctor who would provide them.
If they say the information was correct when it was given, but changed, say they should have told you since it is in your chart that reproductive health care was important enough to you to ask about it. The information you wrote down will help.