Australia Lawmakers Want RU 486 Abortion Drug Vote in Parliament

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 16, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Lawmakers Want RU 486 Abortion Drug Vote in Parliament Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 16, 2005

Canberra, Australia ( — After a leading governmental health official followed the advice of the nation’s drug regulation agency and said the ban on the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 would not be lifted, some Aussie lawmakers want Parliament to vote on the matter.

Prime Minster John Hunter is under pressure from Liberal MPs to allow a conscience vote on the issue. Parliamentary secretary Sharman Stone and Liberal MP Mal Washer are leading the effort to ask the government to call for the vote.

"I would hope we had a conscience vote because I’m quite sure there would be people … who felt so strongly about it that they would cross the floor," Stone said yesterday, according to a report in the Australian newspaper.

Stone threatened to "cross the floor" by joining minority party lawmakers in calling for the vote.

However, Health Minister Tony Abbott, called for lawmakers to back down after making the decision the ban on the abortion drug should not be lifted because it has led to the deaths of women in the United States, Canada and elsewhere.

"There is a sense in which everyone should take a cold shower about this because no company has applied to register it (RU486) in Australia," he added. "We are having an entirely hypothetical argument."

Prepared by chief medical officer Prof John Hovarth, the advice from the Australian drug regulation agency cited figures claiming up to 8 per cent of women taking the drug would need urgent post-abortion care.

"It is therefore unsuitable for women in rural and remote areas who may have limited access to obstetric facilities," the advice said.

Liberal lawmakers have proposed a measure that would remove the decision for approving the abortion drug from the government and placing that power with Parliament, forcing Coalition and Labor MPs to vote on the issue within the final parliamentary sitting for the year.