Australia Lawmakers Make Last Push on Abortion Drug, Amendments Proposed

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Lawmakers Make Last Push on Abortion Drug, Amendments Proposed Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 15, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — Lawmakers in the Australian parliament are making their last push for and against a bill that would pave the way for legalizing the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 there. The drug has been responsible for the deaths of eight women worldwide and over 850 women have been injured by it in the U.S. alone.

The legislation would strip pro-life Health Minister Tony Abbott of the oversight on allowing the abortion drug and give his authority to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Parliament gave Abbot the power to disallow the drug in 1996 and the vote would reverse that decision.

Abortion advocates are concerned that a flurry of last-minute amendments to the bill could scuttle it.

Liberal MP Jackie Kelly is one lawmakers who has proposed a change and has also prepared a companion bill that would alter the drug’s approval process.

One of the amendments would allow the TGA to determine if the drug should be legalized but it would give parliament a veto power to overturn the decision.

Pro-abortion lawmakers are upset that the voting process has become so complicated.

"I don’t mind losing [the vote] if that’s the intent of the Parliament, but not because people don’t understand what’s going on," Mal Washer, a Liberal MP, told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. "If you’re not focused you’re going to be looking around wondering what to do."

Abbot has been engaging in a frenzied 11th hour bid to turn out more votes against the bill, which is expected to be approved.

He described how abortion advocates appear to be dismissing the nation’s high abortion rates as a "fact of life, almost by some as a badge of liberation from old oppressions."

"We have a bizarre double standard in this country where someone who kills a pregnant woman’s baby is guilty of murder, but a woman who aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice," he told the Morning Herald.

"[This drug] may indeed be no less dangerous to a woman, but it is absolutely lethal to a baby and that’s why this drug should keep the current status of special consideration," he added.