by Steven Ertelt
December 12, 2005
Canberra, Australia (LifeNews.com) — With members of the Australian parliament set next year to consider whether to legalize the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, a Senate committee is looking into whether that’s a good idea. Abortion advocates have already criticized the committee claiming it’s stacked with pro-life lawmakers.
Senator Gary Humphries, says the Community Affairs Legislation committee is not stacked and he said it will accept public comment on the abortion drug starting tomorrow. It is scheduled to hold the first of three hearings on Thursday.
"I don’t understand that criticism frankly because the committee has been in existence for a long time," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"It was formed at the beginning of this Parliament before anyone could possibly have imagined that the issue of RU-486 would be referred to it," he explained. "So no the committee hasn’t been stacked, far from it."
Humphries said it would be difficult to keep the inquiry from becoming a wholesale debate on the issue of abortion.
"At one level this legislation is quite straightforward and very simple, but of course it’s already very controversial," he told ABC.
Leslie Cannold from Reproductive Choice Australia, a pro-abortion group, is concerned that the committee will run wildly out of control.
"The worry is that they’re going to turn it into some kind of referendum on abortion," she told ABC. "I think we should worry about it because the intent in doing that is for them to delay the vote."
Democrats leader Lyn Allison, who is one of the lead sponsors of the bill to remove the decision about legalizing the abortion drug from Health Minister Tony Abbott, who opposes it, and giving it to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, agrees.
"My guess is it’ll be…it’ll be a broad inquiry rather than a narrow one," she said.
But Nationals Senator Fiona Nash, another sponsor, isn’t worried, ABC reported.
The committee is expected to release its report in February.