Pell appoints woman doctor to head Sydney Life Office
Dr Brigid Vout, a 31 year old doctor from Melbourne, has been appointed director of the new Life Office, established by the Archdiocese in inner city Sydney to address issues such as abortion, euthanasia, reproductive technology and genetics.
Appointed by Cardinal George Pell, Dr Vout has been working in palliative care and studying bioethics.
She told The Sun-Herald that she sees her job as communicating and explaining the church's orthodox teachings.
Life offices, largely modelled on similar church organisations in the US, are already operating in Melbourne and Perth.
Concerns were raised about the establishment of the office last year, with one report in the Sydney Morning Herald saying nervous insiders were likening it to a "Ministry of Vice and Virtue".
But Dr Vout said one of the main goals was to provide support for people within the church already carrying out pro-life work in all areas, not just abortion.
"It's a role of support and encouragement, not a watchdog role," she said.
The office was also far removed from the right-wing militant pro-life bodies in the US and aimed to spread its message with love and compassion, she said.
"We're not trying to do it in a hardline way, nor are we making apologies for teachings that many people would find hard to hear," she said.
One of the first events the office is hosting is a forum on 1 June for pharmacists and health-care workers to discuss the morning-after pill. The forum will cover the medical, legal and ethical dimensions of the medication.
Dr Vout said they would be reviewing the ethical and medical issues pro-life pharmacists may face, as well as possible legal implications that may arise if they deny the medication to someone.
Dr Vout praised Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, a Catholic, for putting abortion and other important issues on the national agenda
Woman who will tell Catholics how to live (The Sun-Herald 2/5/04)
Life Office - Brigid Vout (Sydney Snapshot) PDF
Archdiocese of Sydney
Respect Life Office, Archdiocese of Melbourne
3 May 2004