by Steven Ertelt
February 9, 2006
Canberra, Australia (LifeNews.com) — The Australian Senate voted for legislation that sets up legalizing the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, which is responsible for killing eight women and injuring hundreds in the United States alone.
Members of the Senate voted 45 to 28 in favor of legislation that takes the decision for whether to legalize the abortion drug from pro-life Health Minister Tony Abbott and gives it to the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The move sets up legalization.
The measure now heads to the House of Representatives where Prime Minister John Howard has already indicated he opposes it.
The House is expected to debate and vote on the bill next week.
The vote came after an emotional debate, during which Australian Democrats leader Lyn Allison, who is the lead sponsor of the effort, admitted she has had an abortion before.
Allison told parliament she had an abortion and government minister Nick Minchin admitted a former girlfriend aborted their child.
"An estimated one in three women have had an abortion and I am one of those," Allison told MPs.
Minchin told lawmakers, "I bring to this debate personal experience in that a former girlfriend of mine had an abortion when we were in a monogamous relationship, and I cannot divorce that experience in my life from this consideration."
Pro-life groups strongly oppose the bill and MPs received about 75,000 letters from pro-life advocates opposing it. Just a few hundred letters backing the abortion drug came in.
Because the vote was a conscience vote, the first one in years, lawmakers were not bound to vote the will of their parties, a Senate committee report on the matter did not recommend an up or down vote.
Howard has said he will not support the legislation and that there was a good reason to leave the decision in Abbot’s hands.
"This is not an argument fundamentally about abortion," he explained. He said he didn’t want the decision on something so monument to be placed in the hands of people who are not accountable to voters.
His taking a position could affect how the parliament votes and there is some speculation the pro-abortion measure would win in the Senate but lose in the House.
On Wednesday, two Liberal senators made last-minute changes to the bill which would effectively give parliament the last word on whether to legalize the abortion drug, meaning the TGA could disapprove of the drug’s use and it could still be made legal.