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Victoria's Catholic hospitals warn of closure over abortion bill

Victoria's Catholic hospitals warn of closure over abortion bill

Victoria's Catholic hospitals warn of closure over abortion bill

Updated 19 December 2011, 13:22 AEDT

In the south-eastern state of Victoria, Catholic hospitals have warned they may be forced to close if abortion is legalised.

A bill decriminalising abortion passed the Lower House of the Victorian parliament earlier this month, and will be debated in the Upper House within weeks.

The Bill would allow women to end a pregnancy at up to 24 weeks gestation.

Archbishop Denis Hart has written an open letter, arguing the law would create a conflict between Catholic doctors' medical obligations, and their religious beliefs.

He says doctors in Catholic hospitals would have no choice but to perform abortions if they're deemed 'emergencies', and nurses would also be obligated to assist in a termination.

Archbishop Hart says the bill is a real threat to the continued existence of the state's 15 Catholic hospitals.

He suggests the only solution may be for the hospitals to stop offering maternity and emergency services.