"That's how I express my faith": Carol is both a Christian and a doctor who performs abortions.


Dr Carol Portmann is an obstetrician and gynaecologist who strongly supports a woman’s right to contraception and abortion.

She is also a practising Christian, which is a religion that frowns upon both of those things.

So how does she reconcile her work with her faith?

Well, that was a journey Dr Portmann, 50, took decades ago, but being at peace with those two opposing forces has actually allowed her to mentally tackle the bigger challenge that’s emerged in recent years; reconciling her faith with the actions of others within it.

Carol and 10 other Christians are starring in an SBS documentary called ‘Christians Like Us’. Check out the trailer below. Post continues after video.

Video by SBS

Within Christianity more widely, those actions include the highest Catholic in Australia George Pell being convicted of paedophilia, and the priests and Catholic brothers revealed as abusers in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Dr Portmann is adamant it’s about sticking firmly to your core beliefs.

“Don’t be afraid to say ‘I am Christian’, and don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t need to justify that to you’,” she told Mamamia.


Dr Portmann is actually a part of the Uniting Church, which generally supports more progressive views. She says it’s the only way she’s able to practice her faith and be both at peace with it, and find support in it.

“I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t be accepted into the Catholic Church,” Dr Portmann said.

She believes it’s very possible to reconcile her work with her Christianity, and she hopes other people aren’t afraid to write their own stories, when it comes to practising religion.

“I believe as a Christian, and as a doctor, I am here to help people and guide them through whatever situation they are in without judgement. That’s how I express my faith. If you don’t agree that’s OK,” Dr Portmann explained.

She and others of faith admit at this moment in time, they’re feeling attacked given the recent convictions of people of faith.

Dr Portmann has no doubt it’s making people question the religion they are a part of, and for them her message is clear:

“Stick to the basis of faith in terms of how you live your life. Don’t get too lost in theology. Most people are just living Christian lives – and by that I mean trying to be nice, good people,” she explained.

She does believe that many churches are too stuck in the depths of ideology and are failing at making themselves relevant in today’s day and age.

Dr Carol Portmann belongs to the Uniting Church. Image: Supplied.

"We need to understand the words that were written down were done so thousands of years ago. We have in fact changed things over time and altered it, it just seems to be we are doing it 100 years behind the way society actually moves," Dr Portmann told Mamamia.

"Two people can look at exactly the same line in a Bible and take away two different ideas of what it might mean," she added.

She explained that if you get back to the basics, Christianity teaches "we aren't meant to be the judges, if anything Christianity is supposed to provide us with the ability to be non-judgemental and loving".

That's something she found solace in when she was forced to make the decision early on in her medical career as to whether or not she was comfortable performing abortions. She admits, it wasn't something she'd really thought too much about.

But then she met the women. She saw the distress, she heard their stories - that was what made her mind up.


"I was just open minded. People do have the right to their opinions, but they shouldn't let that affect how other people live their lives. Our responsibility is to listen and support, and not judge," she said.

As for the actions of Pell, considering his power in the church, she thinks as a group the Catholic Church needs to take responsibility. They need to put things in place to make sure it never happens again.

"The church screwed up, badly. But that isn't a representation of all of us or of all of our churches. It can be confronting when you see the things happening, and it's not in the name of the church, but it's portrayed as the only thing that we do.

"That's difficult," she admitted.

So, Dr Portmann finds it's easier to remove herself from the bigger picture, and see religion as a guide to herself as an individual.

She didn't agree with everything, so she found a denomination of the church that she resonated with. That supported her right to different opinions on things.

Instead of getting lost in the theology and the words written down thousands of years ago, Dr Portmann sticks to the parts of her faith that she believes in, and that's all she thinks she needs to say.

"I am using my Christianity for myself, and I hope it gets expressed in the way I care for people," she told Mamamia.

'Christians Like Us' airs over two nights at 8.35pm, Wednesday April 3 and 10 on SBS and also on SBS On Demand.