Australia Prime Minister Opposes Abortion Drug Vote, Compromise Proposed

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 12, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Prime Minister Opposes Abortion Drug Vote, Compromise Proposed Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 12, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — A member of parliament has put forward a last-minute compromise shortly before the Australia House is expected to vote on a measure that would lead to legalizing the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug. Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard is opposed to the underlying bill.

The measure would strip pro-life Health minister Tony Abbott of his power to prohibit using the abortion drug, which has killed eight women worldwide, and give it to a regulatory agency. Liberal backbencher Jackie Kelly has proposed a compromise that would let Abbot keep his powers but give parliament a veto over his decision.

Prime Minister John Howard, who was expected to oppose the measure in the House, said he would not comment on the idea.

"I’m not going to give a running commentary on every twist and turn in this debate," he told reporters about the compromise. "I have one vote."

However, he did say he was opposed to the bill, which would give the Therapeutic Goods Administration the power to legalize the drug.

"I don’t share the view — apparently of the majority of my parliamentary colleagues, certainly in the Senate — that you should hand authority for this (drug) over to the bureaucracy," Howard told Australian television Sunday.

"Anything that involves members of parliament making decisions on important issues I support," he added.

Kelly’s compromise could be proposed as early as Monday and may have its own vote prior to the vote on the bill.

"If you don’t have any faith in the minister on things like this well rather than giving it to the TGA, lets give it to the whole parliament and either the Senate or the House, either one with a majority can disallow it," she told the Australian Associated Press.

A similar motion in the Senate failed last week.

A new survey of the members of the Australia house published in an Australian newspaper finds 63 of the 150 members support the bill while 27 said they would oppose it. Another 60 members would not comment on how they would vote.