Australia Doctor Files Application to Dispense RU 486 Abortion Drug

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 22, 2005

Canberra, Australia ( — As the Australian parliament prepares to debate whether or not to drop the ban on the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, government officials in Australia have received their first application from someone wanting to sell it.

Caroline de Costa, a doctor who is also a professor of obstetrics at James Cook University, filed the application with the Queensland government, which referred it to Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott.

Abbott earlier ruled that the ban would not be lifted, but members of parliament are looking at a vote to move the decision for overturning the ban from the government to the parliament, setting up a vote to allow the abortion drug.

Abbott said the ban should stay in place because of limited follow-up care for women suffering from botched abortions in rural areas. He also pointed to the deaths of women from the abortion drug in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.

Health Minister Stephen Robertson said the application, which the Health Department’s central research and ethics committee received Tuesday, would be forwarded to Abbott’s office.

"I have been informed that the application relating to RU 486 from a Cairns doctor should have gone straight to the Federal Government, which is where it is going now," Robertson said, according to the Herald Sun newspaper. "Approval to import and use this particular drug is entirely a matter for the Federal Minister for Health."

However, Robertson, urged Abbott to allow the Therapeutic Goods Administration to make the final decision on the application to sell the abortion pills.

Only one other Australian doctor has attempted to bring the abortion drug there. Brisbane doctor Adrienne Freeman tried in 2001 to get the RU 486 abortion drug approved, but failed in her attempt.

Prime Minister John Howard said this week he would support a conscience vote in the Australian parliament. de Costa is expected to brief MPs this week on her bid to use the drug.