Australia RU 486 Abortion Drug Debate Intense Before Senate Hearing

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 14, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia RU 486 Abortion Drug Debate Intense Before Senate Hearing Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 14, 2005

Canberra, Australia ( — Members of the Australian parliament are engaging in considerable debate in advance of a Senate hearing today on whether Australia should legalize the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug.

The Senate’s community affairs legislation committee opens hearings on a proposal that would remove the decision for allowing the abortion drug from pro-life Health Minister Tony Abbot and put it in the hands of the Therapeutic Goods Administration. That would lead to a vote on a bill allowing the drug to be sold to women nationwide.

Nationals Senate leader and Queensland senator Ron Boswell, who is pro-life, said it was appropriate to allow the Health Minister to continue serving as a watchdog for women’s health and stop a drug used "to kill an unborn child," the Courier Mail newspaper reported.

"This is just as much a social policy decision as it is a medical one," Senator Boswell said. "How many abortions do we want in this country?"

"Surely it is time to look at positive alternatives such as counseling rather than increasing the ways and means of providing ever more abortions," Boswell said, according to the Courier Mail report.

Boswell also explained that the drug was not safe for women or easy to use.

"It requires several doctor visits and access to medical supervision for the 5 percent to 8 percent of cases, according to the drug manufacturer, where the abortion is not successful and surgery is required as a back-up," he said.

Australian Democrats leader Lyn Allison said the debate was not about abortion, but who should be in charge of approving drugs.

"We need to let the Government know that the majority of Australians support a woman’s right to choose and that Australia does not want a divisive debate on an issue that was settled to the satisfaction of most Australians years ago," the Courier Mail reported Senator Allison saying.

The committee is expected to hear evidence today from Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal, the Rural Doctors Association, Australian Catholic Health, the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance and the Women’s Electoral Lobby.

Haikerwal is expected to endorse the measure switching the decision from Abbott to the TGA and has dismissed safety concerns about the drug, even thought it has led to the deaths of women in the United States, Sweden and Canada.

The public has until January 16 to submit comments and information for the committee to consider.