Australia Abortion Practitioner Files Test Case for RU 486 Drug

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 20, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 20, 2005

Queensland, Australia ( — An Australia abortion practitioner has filed an application to sell the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, marking the next chapter in a national battle over whether to approve it. The Australian parliament is expected to debate legalizing the drug, which has killed numerous women, early next year.

Caroline de Costa of Queensland has filed an application with the Therapeutic Goods Association for approval to use the abortion pills on women in her area.

"I have endorsement from the ethics committee of my hospital to become an authorized prescriber in Cairns of mifepristone (RU 486) and I am anxious to pursue the application with the TGA," she told ABC radio.

Currently, pro-life Health Minister Tony Abbott has authority over whether to allow sales of the abortion drug and he decided against it after consulting with the nation’s top doctor. Abortion advocates in parliament want to strip him of that authority and allow the TGA to make the decision instead.

If their bill is approved to switch the decision to the TGA, another bill is planned to allow sales of the abortion drug nationwide.

De Costa said she was using what’s referred to as the "authorized prescriber route" to be allowed to sell the abortion drugs. That’s intended for doctors who want to use a drug on a patient or particular group of patients that normally isn’t allowed.

That route has never been used before on RU 486 and she called her application a "test case."

The abortion drug was banned in 1996 and only one other abortion practitioner, Adrienne Freeman of Brisbane, has tried to use the drug. Her application failed in 2001 when she withdrew it halfway through the process.

Last week, an Australia Senate committee held hearings on the idea of shifting the responsibility of approving the drug to the TGA. Abortion advocates backed the idea but Catholic Health CEO, Francis Sullivan, who represents private Catholic hospitals, told the committee the abortion drug hurts women.

"Recent information from the US Food and Drug Administration documents the incidence of 676 adverse events, ranging from minor symptoms through to reactions requiring hospitalization and even the recording of deaths," he added.