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A Matter of Conscience? The Democratic Significance of 'Conscience Votes' in Legislating Bioethics in Australia


Ross, K and Dodds, SM and Ankeny, RA, A Matter of Conscience? The Democratic Significance of 'Conscience Votes' in Legislating Bioethics in Australia, Australian Journal of Social Issues, 44, (2) pp. 121-144. ISSN 0157-6321 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2009 Australian Social Policy Association

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DOI: doi:10.1002/j.1839-4655.2009.tb00136.x


In Australia members of a political party are expected to vote as a block on the instructions of their party. Occasionally a 'conscience vote' (or 'free vote') is allowed, which releases parliamentarians from the obligation to maintain party discipline and permits them to vote according to their 'conscience.' In recent years Australia has had a number of conscience votes in federal Parliament, many of which have focused on bioethical issues (e.g., euthanasia, abortion, RU486, and embryonic/stem cell research and cloning). This paper examines the use of conscience votes in six key case studies in these contested areas of policy-making, with particular attention to their implications for promoting democratic values and the significance of women's Parliamentary participation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Bioethics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Dodds, SM (Professor Susan Dodds)
ID Code:59587
Year Published:2009
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP0556068)
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Philosophy
Deposited On:2009-12-14
Last Modified:2015-02-11

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