Australia Battle Over Foreign Abortion Funding Heats Up More After Obama Move

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Battle Over Foreign Abortion Funding Heats Up More After Obama Move

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 4
, 2009

Canberra, Australia ( — The battle in the Australian Parliament over funding groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations continues to heat up in the wake of President Barack Obama’s decision to overturn American limits on funding such pro-abortion groups.

Australia is the only other first-world nation to have similar abortion funding limits in place and MPs from the Green Party are pushing hard to overturn it.

Yesterday, their members urged the national government to overturn the limits, claiming the anti-funding laws are draconian and archaic.

But Nationals senator Ron Boswell of Queensland is responding to the move and says it would jeopardize much-needed health care and other supportive funding for third-world countries that need Australia’s help.

"Which services would we have to cut in order to provide abortion services?" he asked. "Medicine, a village well, food, birthing kits?"

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the Courier Mail newspaper she is upset that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has taken so long to make a decision on whether to pull funding. Rudd has been in office for a year since replacing John Howard as the nation’s leader and has yet to decide.

"He has had over 12 months to make a decision and yet we’ve seen in America, President Obama overturn these draconian laws in the US within the first week of being in the job," she said.

Ary Laufer, of the British-based abortion business Marie Stopes International Australia, which stands to benefit financially from a decision to reverse the abortion funding policy, blasted the Rudd government for delaying.

She claimed not funding abortions puts the health of women at risk, even though the real need for women in African and South American nations impacted by the policy is legitimate medical services.
While the government of conservative former prime minister John Howard prevented the Australian Agency for International Development from promoting abortions, pro-abortion MPs have pushed Rudd to repeal the policy.

The policy has been place for 13 years and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, who can change the policy without legislation needed in parliament, has been considering whether to do so.

MP Boswell has said Rudd and members of his government could face a backlash if he approves taxpayer funding of international abortions.

Boswell says there has been no request from nations around the world to fund abortions in their countries.

"I don’t want this to happen and there has been no country that has come to us and specifically said we want aid to fund abortions," Senator Boswell told ABC radio.

"As far as Mr Rudd is concerned, he cuddled up to the churches for the last election — if he does this to them then they’ll turn upon him," Boswell added.

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