Do doctors have to sign Conscientious Objector forms?

Questions and Answers signpostNew information has just come to light on this question, which I wanted to share with you because it is very important and will have implications for all parents who are filing as a conscientious objector to vaccination. It is also quite different from my previous understanding of this issue.

From the very beginning of the policy that required parents who were not vaccinating to see an immunisation provider in order to get their conscientious objector form signed (in order to get the Maternity Immunisation Allowance and the Childcare Benefit), the AVN has had a steady stream of parents approach them because GPs were refusing to sign the form.

We were told by the AMA that there was no requirement for doctors to actually sign this form – leading to parents seeing up to 20 or more doctors before finding one who would agree to sign. One wonders if the AMA were lying or simply ignorant. Either way, it is not a great recommendation for their integrity.

This made no sense to us because the requirement was for a doctor to ‘counsel’ the parent on the benefits and risks of vaccination and then, sign the form to say they had counselled – not that they agreed or disagreed with the decision of the parent.

Despite this, as I said above, it has been common for doctors to refuse to sign these forms leading to great stress on the part of parents who have felt bullied, intimidated and even abused by some less than ethical medicos.

Now however, I have been given a copy of an article from the Australian Doctor Weekly.

Written by Dr Craig Lilienthal, a practising GP, medicolegal consultant and a member of Avant’s Medical Advisory Council, it appears that there is a legal requirement for doctors to sign these forms. This is information parents need to be aware of and, if doctors do refuse to sign, it looks as though parents would be well within their rights to file an official complaint with the healthcare complaints commission in their State or Territory.

From the article:

Case one:

A young mother asks you to provide her with a medical certificate stating she is a conscientious objector to her children being immunised. She needs the certificate so they can attend school and she can receive Family Assistance payments (please note – this information is incorrect since the conscientious objector has nothing to do with school entry or Family Assistance payments – only the two payments noted above).

You are personally opposed to her views and believe her thinking – about the risks of vaccinations and the benefits of immunity through healthy eating – is unrealistic.

You advise her accordingly and state that you are a conscientious objector to providing the requested documentation.

Options:

You can decline to provide her with the requested document because:

A – Her views fly in the face of accepted medical knowledge.

B – You are opposed to her views and believe she is putting her children at risk.

C – The legislation allows you to decline the request.

D – None of the above

Answer A may be supported by the great bulk of your professional colleagues, but does not constitute grounds for declining her request. Answer B represents your personal views and we know and accept that we cannot impose our personal opinions on our patients. Answer C is not correct either. The Family Assistance Act imposes a legal duty of care on doctors to sign the forms after discussing the pros and cons of the situation with parents. Your refusal to sign a form or provide a certificate amounts to a disregard of the legally recognised right of every person to refuse medical treatment. The correct answer, therefore, is D, none of the above.

Please share this information widely since the best way for parents to defend their rights is to be aware of them and we all need to be aware of this requirement on the part of doctors.

Also, remember that the Health Insurance Commission regularly ‘loses’ the Conscientious Objector Forms that have been submitted by parents. Therefore, be sure to keep a copy and to send your form in by registered mail.

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27 thoughts on “Do doctors have to sign Conscientious Objector forms?

  1. I am a grandmother of an unvaccinated child. I visited a GP today with my daughter and her daughter to get the conscientious objection form signed. What a farce!

    At no point did the GP want to listen to WHY we believe it is the wrong thing to do.She said it was her conscience choice to NOT sign the form despite the form not saying anything like it was up to the doctor to make a conscience choice. She has just subjected a single mother to hardship because she is more terrified of the pharmacy industry propaganda than the medical history within our family which actually is quite disturbing .We have anaphylaxis which is a very under researched immune response.
    It was actually quite laughable when our very healthy and active 22 month old wanted to be picked up by the doctor ( who is a woman) and she wouldn’t comply because the child was ‘un vaccinated’.

    Too bad if she actually had an illness and needed to be examined physically by this doctor. The hysterical reaction displayed by this doctor belies my 24 years of constant research on this topic and is similar to the dogma displayed by religious fanatics.

    My family consist of older very well educated scientists ( pharmacist, chemist and a physicist ) and NONE have given their children vaccines which do NOT guarantee immunisation but are in our considered opinion a game of russian roulette.

  2. Pingback: Conscientious Objection Form & GP's 'kick back' - Page 4

  3. @ Brad… You’re my Hero! :)
    Vaccines are poison….and any doctor who supports them, in my opinion, are just ‘drug dealing eugenicists’. How dare they play God and think that the natural body with it’s immune system is far less superior to a concoction of formaldehyde, aluminium salt, sorbitol, polysorbate 60/65/80, mercury derivative, animal protein and DNA…list goes on and on…
    My beautiful twin boys were injected with the HepB vax by shoving a form under my Husband’s nose and telling him to sign it. He thought he had to. He did not. They didnt explain that to him OR what the form was for. A friend of mine gave birth to a beaut lil’ boy and the NURSE!! told her that her son was getting the HepB vax whether she liked it or not.. Now you legal eagles, tell me that is not only unethical BUT illegal.
    I am very happy to say, our little daughter is COMPLETELY vax free, I made that ABUNDANTLY CLEAR in the Operating Theatre that she was NOT to receive ANY vaccines!!
    Good on you Ascorbic acid, Cholecalciferol, Breast Milk, Vit B17 etc etc..

  4. Sian, I won’t be so nice. You being a nurse this rant doesn’t include you because all nurses I have been involved with are great people. GP’s on the other hand…. There are some GP’s who are nice and well meaning people but most of them seem to me to be nothing more than drug (pharma) dealers. A General Practitioner to me is someone who Generally doesn’t know too much and who if you ask them to name 5 ingredients of vaccines and there potential side effects would leave them yelling abuse at you whilst telling you that you are not a doctor so you know nothing about anything. That just so happened to me yesterday with my wife and 2 children in the room and is the third time by different doctors this has happened. I have been sat down by these so called medical professionals time and time again and most of them will not even tell you what’s in a vaccine.

    I’m aware they see certain diseases affect children in sometimes deadly ways but the truth is a child with a strong NATURAL immune system will not be affected by these disease as bad as someone with a run down immune system. My oldest girl is 2 and a half has never had a vaccine and has been to the doctors maybe 4 times in her life. And dear god she even had the measles and as told by the doctor that she may die so race off to the hospital and don’t expose her to the world as she would be responsible for universal death. And loe and behold she had a rash for 4 days and was running around like you wouldn’t even know she was sick.
    Lets face it, anyone who hasn’t vaccinated there children know they did the right thing. The rest of you just keep injecting your children with toxins and the doctors who push vaccines for profit just know you will be judged… And as far as the government $1500 for my 2 children, you can shove it up your ….

  5. Dear Meryl,

    My worry is where is all this heading? People used to get a benefit for immunising, or having signed the conscientious objection form. I chose not to sign it as I didn’t think it was anyone’s business if I didn’t immunise my children. Now families will be penalised if that form isn’t signed. I wonder if the government are building their database of which families don’t immunise in order t bully them in coming years into immunising… or even forced immunisations! Sorry to sound like an extremist, but its happening overseas… Should I or shouldn’t I? The $745 per child is a lot of money to lose if I choose not to sign!

    • Hi Melissa,

      I know a lot of people who have taken that stance. In my opinion, you should not let the bastards get away with not giving you that money. If you’re entitled to it – then register. If you have a medicare card, they already know who you are and that your child is not vaccinated so make them give you your entitlements.

  6. Meryl,
    I have sought and received a formal legal opinion from a medical defence solicitor. I copy his response for your information and interest.
    ————————————————————————–
    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for sending me that further information which I have now reviewed. I have also considered other provisions of relevant legislation.

    At the outset I do not agree with Dr Craig Lilienthal’s comment that the legislation imposes a legal duty of care on doctors to sign the forms after discussing the pros and cons of the situation with the parents. I could read no such obligation in the legislation.

    Having said that, I do not think the requirement as set out in the legislation is a certification that you acquiesce to the parent’s objections to immunising their children. As you are aware the form is required to allow certain family benefits to be paid. It has very little to do with immunisation of children.

    The requirement on a ‘recognized immunisation provider’ is to discuss with the adult the benefits and risks of immunising the child. If you have not done that then you should not sign the documents because you cannot certify that you have done so and I suspect it would be an offence for you to certify a document where you have not provided that advice to an adult.

    If you have given that advice and the adult is a “conscientious objector” (as defined) then I would think there would be an ethical obligation to complete the form. All you are doing is certifying that you have given the advice to the adult.

    I do not think you can be prosecuted or sued by a person for not signing the form but the parent/guardian may well complain to the Medical Board who may find your refusal to sign the document as unprofessional (provided that you have given the advice).

    I hope that has provided you with some guidance.

    • Thanks Scott – I appreciate your doing this. I am still asking Nicola Roxon because now, we have two different opinions from two different people and both of them are saying that there might be ramifications for doctors who refuse to sign the forms so that really does need to be clarified for everyone’s sake.

  7. Hi Meryl,

    You stated “The law states (and remember, I was involved in drafting it), that doctors must counsel parents on the benefits and risks of vaccination – it does not state that they must have a discussion with the parents though of course”

    The law that you state you were involved in drafting is presumably the “A NEW TAX SYSTEM (FAMILY ASSISTANCE) ACT 1999 NO. 80, 1999″. It states:

    “Conscientious objection
    (3) The child meets the immunisation requirements if a recognised immunisation
    provider has certified in writing that he or she has discussed with the adult
    the benefits and risks of immunising the child and the adult has declared in
    writing that he or she has a conscientious objection to the child being
    immunised.”

    You can check that at http://bit.ly/sM8s8Q if you need to.

    I’m no lawyer, but it looks like the word discussion is there.

    John

    • Yes John, you are right and I apologise for misstating the wording. The word discussion is in there – but the words, harangue, bully, yell at and other things that doctors do to parents who choose not to vaccinate are not.

  8. Shotinfo says:
    “The law states (and remember, I was involved in drafting it), that doctors must counsel parents on the benefits and risks of vaccination – it does not state that they must have a discussion with the parents though of course, a discussion (not necessarily a debate) is usually a good and worthwhile thing, I believe. But the parents don’t have to agree with what the doctor says nor do the parents have to show that they agree with, understand or appreciate what the doctor has said. The requirement is solely on the part of the doctor – not on the parent. The parent has to be present, has to listen, that is it.”

    The Family Allowance Act apparently says:
    “Conscientious objection
    (3) The child meets the immunisation requirements if a recognised immunisation provider has certified in writing that he or she has discussed with the adult the benefits and risks of immunising the child and the adult has declared in writing that he or she has a conscientious objection to the child being immunised.”

    There seems to be a small, but significant, discrepancy here.

  9. I take issue with the comment ‘I wish doctors were [sic] realise that they are advisors – not Hitlers’. That is quite an inflammatory and offensive remark. The vast majority of health professionals respect the right of people to make their own decisions regarding their health, including the choice of whether or not to vaccinate themselves and their children. It is hardly surprising that the vast majority of people you encounter will provide you with anecdotes which portray health professionals in a less than favourable light. This is because you are interacting with a very skewed sample population.

    • Sian, I understand that you are a nurse and your husband is a doctor and no doubt, you are both lovely, caring, respectful practitioners. The fact is however that there are many doctors and nurses in Australia who are not. And parents deserve protection from these medical predators. As for a skewed sample of the population, are you saying that it is EVER excusable to abuse a parent because you disagree with their vaccination decision? It sounds to me like that is what you’re saying and I hope I am just reading it incorrectly.

  10. You are all mis-informed.

    the vaccination process is 1st off run by the Rockefeller’s and co.
    These mass murderers took up the process of “poison as medicine” after the old alchemists refused to continue its practice in fear of poisoning a King and deemed a “heretic to be hung”.

    They reverted to natural herbs that cannot be patented, and hence the dire situation of profit before people that exists today! So its no wonder doctors are yelling at patients about medicine as their sponsors will loose there bottom line if anti-vac networks get more coverage!

    2nd the child is donated to the state and is registered as land when the parent applies for a birth certificate by the state.
    this re-title brings in a new guardian AKA the state! This is why they see fit to control and order our children about, they have the psychopathic mind of a boss and hence act as such!
    Much has been written on this, and is not new conspira-tainment!

    The truth of the matter is that when people want benefits from the state, there comes a price, this is how courts get custody of children, its all because they were elected as the trustee to operate as a legal-guardian over our property (Land, AKA children).

    it may sound crazy, but ask yourself, do they insist they have control and force their will upon you?
    If the answer is yes, then its a form of slavery, (Legal slavery).

    No one can exercise ownership, direction or control over another or they can be prosecuted under section 270 & 271 of the commonwealth criminal code!

    check it out. and stop asking for handouts from a government that aims to poison your property!

    J.

  11. Hi Meryl,
    I just wanted to let you and other parents know that I haven’t had any problems having conciencous objection forms signed for each of our 4 children. I haven’t even tried a GP. I have had my clinic nurse discuss the issue with me each time and then sign it for me. As they are the immunisation nurse/provider they are legal able to do this.

    • Hi Kara – that’s great and we do tell parents that clinic nurses will often sign without putting them under any undue stress so it’s good to see that this works. I wish doctors were realise that they are advisors – not Hitlers – but unfortunately, there seems to be a significant minority who still feel like it is their right to tell others what to do.

    • I went to a nurse today, a registered immunisation provider, she refused and was very rude to me. I will be filing a complaint tomorrow!

  12. Yes, it IS amazing that different people can read the same information and come to such different conclusions. You often come to different conclusions to almost anybody else I come into contact with. With matters of legislation, however, I think lawyers are the best to interpret them, which is why I suggested a legal persons opinion would be best in our differing of opinions.

    As for the remainder of your comment, I would like to make a few points.

    - you, of course, see a small proportion of the doctor patient interactions, so obviously your experiences with doctors reactions to signing a CO form would be a self selected sample of those who have had poor interactions. Surely you can recognise that the self selected population you see is unlikely to be representative of the wider experiences people have?

    - you have decided to represent my views in the way you see them, that “you do not believe that vaccination should be a matter of free and informed choice.” I, in fact, believe that it SHOULD be a matter of free and informed choice (as should ANY medical decision for a (legally) competent individual). Please do not presume to know what my opinion is. In fact, the very reason I have commented on this thread is that it appeals to my side that absolutely agrees peoples moral and ethical standpoints should be respected, no matter what side of the vaccination debate you stand on. As there will be a small minority of parents who will disagree with vaccination, there will be a small minority of doctors who will refuse to sign the CO form. As the small minority of parents should not be subject to legal action for their views, neither should the small minority of doctors.

    - With regards to your comments on me and my practice. I am an adult nephrologist, so you can rest easy that there are no young children who would present to me. Asking a vaccination history is a standard part of my practice, and I am well aware of the literature regarding vaccination and renal issues – but thanks for the tips.

    - As for your final comments, I absolutely stand by my assessment of you. You seem to deliberately continue to distribute information you know is incorrect, and leave your previous incorrect assertions uncorrected (Healthy start for School program is my obvious thought here – I am glad that you know agree that no family is financially disadvantaged in any way in their decision to be a conscientious objector – perhaps you’d like to correct your posts on this issue now it seems you have come to the same conclusion as me.)

    • So Rhianna, let me get this straight. You know that vaccines can cause permanent kidney damage, you are a nephrologist, and you think that is OK? Hmmm.

      And you also think that your cyberbullying someone with foul language because they disagree with you is OK? You are not painting a picture of someone I would trust with my health, I have to say.

      Also, as wrong as you are about the legislation surrounding a doctor’s legal requirement to sign conscientious objection forms (and we will be writing to Nicola Roxon asking for clarification on this issue), you are just as wrong about everything I have said regarding the ‘Healthy Child Checks”

      I think you may need to work on your reading comprehension as well as your ability to empathise and listen to others with respect, even if you disagree with them.

  13. You believe I did not read the clear explanation of the medico-legal expert? I wonder how you came to that conclusion, considering I quoted what he said in my response. Maybe I just made a REALLY good guess of what his words were.

    Perhaps the person who didn’t read, is you, Meryl. Without doubt, a doctor would not have to sign the form if the patient/parent/guardian refused to engage in a discussion regarding the risks and benefits of immunisation – that much we should all agree upon, and is not in any way in conflict with what Dr.Lilienthal has said.

    I have offered up quite a bit of other information that suggests that Dr.Lilienthal’s response is limited only to the example given in the story from the Australian Doctor. It is, in fact, the very part of the Australian Constitution that YOU directed me to previously (s.51 xxiiiA) that provides protection for doctors against “civil conscription” from the government. I wonder what Dr.Lilienthal’s take on that view is? This is why I suggested some legal eagles get involved, as medical ethics is certainly not as cut and dry as you would like to interpret Dr.Lilienthal’s word, and I’m certain he would be willing to consider the shades of grey in this.

    Having said all of this, I think it would be the vast minority of doctors who actually would refuse to sign the form if they were actually able to have a discussion regarding the pros and cons of vaccination.

    • Dear Rhainna,

      Isn’t it amazing how two people can read the same information and yet reach such different conclusions?

      The law states (and remember, I was involved in drafting it), that doctors must counsel parents on the benefits and risks of vaccination – it does not state that they must have a discussion with the parents though of course, a discussion (not necessarily a debate) is usually a good and worthwhile thing, I believe. But the parents don’t have to agree with what the doctor says nor do the parents have to show that they agree with, understand or appreciate what the doctor has said. The requirement is solely on the part of the doctor – not on the parent. The parent has to be present, has to listen, that is it.

      As for the vast minority of doctors, our experience has been otherwise and not only have a very large number of doctors refused to sign the forms, a significant minority of doctors have been completely abusive – yelling at parents in front of their children, telling them that by not vaccinating, their kids will die, etc. This information (that doctors are required to sign the form) will be most helpful to parents who want to support their rights as guaranteed by Australian law, to choose not to vaccinate or to vaccinate selectively and still get their government entitlements.

      I know that you do not believe that vaccination should be a matter of free and informed choice, Rhianna. And as a nephrologist, I know that you have seen vaccine-damaged children though I doubt very much that you have recognised the connection. I just spoke with someone yesterday whose child developed kidney disease within days of receiving a vaccination and we have several cases like this on our database. Both nephrotic syndrome and IgA nephropathy have been reported as being temporally linked with vaccination and I believe that they are listed as potential side effects on the package inserts of several vaccines .

      Perhaps the next time that a young child comes into your office with kidney problems, you might like to ask for their vaccination history and when their problems started, whether or not the parents noticed any changes in their condition after receipt of vaccines and then, read the package inserts for the vaccines they were given to look for any possible link? This is what a scientist and true skeptic would do. What you will do…well, since you’ve already made up your mind that vaccines are perfectly safe and can’t possibly cause problems, you will most likely continue to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

      I’m very glad you are not a GP Rhianna – you would be the last person I would want my children (or anyone’s children!) seeing. If you treat kids the way you treat those who disagree with you, you would actually be the last person ANYONE should see. The reason I say so can be found at the following link – http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y46/tuppermama/Skeptic%20shots/RhiannaMiles.jpg

  14. Meryl, I have previously had this discussion on the AVN facebook page, prior to being banned from commenting there, so I will look with much interest to see if this comment passes your moderation.

    Firstly, it is ONLY within the bounds of the multiple choice question presented, that the correct answer is that the doctor does not have a valid reason to refuse to sign the form. Had there been further multiple choice options available, there would have been a correct answer for why the doctor could refuse to sign the conscientious objector form.

    The declaration a GP/immunisation provider signs on the conscientious objector form states that “I declare that I have explained the benefits and risks associated with immunisation to the parent or guardian of the child named, and have informed him/her of the potential dangers if the child is not immunised” http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/public/files/ma_conscientious_objection_form.pdf

    Clearly, if the parent/guardian refuses to involve in a discussion such as this, a doctor cannot sign the declaration, so I would suggest the above multiple choice question could be correctly answered with either:
    E) The parent/guardian refused to be involved in a discussion regarding the risks and benefits of immunisation
    OR
    F) The parent/guardian did not understand the discussion regarding the risks and benefits of immunisation.

    Furthermore, from the AMA code of ethics http://ama.com.au/codeofethics
    “Recognise your right to refuse to carry out services which you consider to be professionally unethical, against your moral convictions, imposed on you for either administrative reasons or for financial gain or which you consider are not in the best interest of the patient.”

    The comment from the article from Australian Doctor you post above “Your refusal to sign a form or provide a certificate amounts to a disregard of the legally recognised right of every person to refuse medical treatment” is quite an interesting one. Refusal to sign the form can be refusal on the basis of maintaining your (constitutionally protected) right of professional independence as noted in the AMA code of ethics as above, and in no way forces the parent/guardian to submit to treatment against their wishes. The doctor is only objecting to signing the form – I think this would be an interesting point to put to the legal eagles out there. The doctor does not “have to” sign anything for the purpose of an giving an actual medical treatment, it is a task only related to the ability to receive government benefits, not related to the parent/guardians ability to refuse the medical treatment of immunisation.

    • Incorrect Rhanna. I was involved in the drafting of the legislation which brought the conscientious objector clause into being and there was NO requirement on the part of the parent to prove and understanding of what the doctor has said nor does the parent have to justify their decision to anyone.

      I believe you did not read the very clear explanation of the medico-legal expert. Perhaps you would like to try again? He said that the doctor was in breach of the legislation if they refuse to sign or fill in this form for the parents – end of story.

      It is not the role of the doctor to impose their will on their patient – doctors have an advisory role – they are not our owners or bosses, though someone like yourself seems to feel they would like to be in that position.

  15. All of these issues continue to point toward the government ownership of OUR children. It seems we must seek ‘permission’ for far too many things things, that in our view, have nothing to do with the government at all. I keep coming back to the one question, “Who owns the children?” And if the answer is anyone other than the ‘parents/guardians’ it is a wrongful one. Who are we then to request ‘permission’ to homeschool, to vaccinate or anything else for that matter.
    It is our personal view that our children are not ‘owned’ by the state or anyone else for that matter, not even us, as they have been entrusted to our care and as parents/carers/guardians, it is our responsibility to raise them as we see fit. We owe it to them to be well informed, not the government or any other body.

    • Exactly the case, Reeces! The government has a role to play if children are in abusive situations or being neglected, but they continually want to expand their role to claim ownership of our children. We as parents must always have the final say as to how our children are cared for provided we do not place them at increased avoidable risk. Actually, a case could be made that parents who feed their children McDonalds and other junk foods on a regular basis, smoke in front of them or drink to excess (amongst other risky behaviours) whilst pregnant are all placing their children at risk and yet, those of us who work hard on the nutrition, environment and care of our children are being called to account for not using toxic vaccines we don’t believe will help keep them healthy. Go figure!

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