Australia Committee Examining Abortion Drug May Extend Hearings

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 18, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — An Australia legislative committee looking at whether to legalize the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug there may extend its hearings. If it does, that could put off votes in parliament on whether to allow the drug until later in the year.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Guy Barnett one of the six members of the panel said he saw a need for the extension.

"You wouldn’t take evidence from all the people who have put in submissions but we need to make sure the full gamut of views is represented," he told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

His comments come after National Party senator Barnaby Joyce said the issue of the destruction of human life deserved more than three days of hearings, which are slated to begin next week.

But Democrats senator Lyn Allison, who is heading up the effort to legalize the abortion drug, disagreed.

"Despite the number of submissions, there isn’t anything new that has not been raised in the first hearings," she said, according to the Sydney newspaper.

The discussion of an extension follows news reports that the committee was planning to throw out 1,500 of the 4,000 letters it has received on the issue. Those were form letters that were the result of pro-life groups encouraging their members to contact the committee.

Just 100 people have written in saying they favor allowing the abortion drug, which has killed women in the United States, Canada, Sweden and elsewhere, to be used there.

"I think they [submissions] are running 30 to one against [the drug], but I don’t think that reflects community attitudes," Allison contended.

The committee was expected to issue its report to parliament by February 8, but the panel will discuss on Monday whether to push that back. The Sydney newspaper says the committee is expected to approve the extension but the Australian Senate has to sign off on it and it doesn’t go back into session until February 7.

The Australian parliament will eventually consider two bills on the issue — one taking the decision about RU 486 away from pro-life Health Minister Tony Abbot and the other asking the Australian drug agency to approve use of the drugs.

A new poll claims about 70 percent of Australians favor approving the aborton drug but pro-life groups say they plan to release polls next week showing a majority disapproves.