RU486 debate enters Australian Senate

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: RU486 (abortion pill) debate

The looming debate on whether the Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott or the Theraputic Goods Administration (TGA) should regulate mifepristone, RU486, has entered the Australian Senate, February 8. A free vote is due to be conducted on this issue.

The first speakers have been all women speaking in support of passing control from the Health Minister to the TGA: Australian National Party Senator Fiona Nash, Australian Democrats Senator Lyn Allison, Australian Labor Party Senator Claire Moore. They have drawn attention to the fact that abortion is already legal in Australia, the inappropriateness of a Parliament minister to regulate a single drug versus a scientific and independent body, and if RU486 is an unsafe drug then the TGA will not approve the drug. Petitions were presented by Moore with the undersigned stating "medical experts, not the health minister" should regulate the drug.

Australian Liberal Party Senator Gary Humphries then spoke, stating that the bill is a "mistake", not because of the possible risks, or that the TGA is unfit to perform the evaluation, but because RU486 is "not just another drug", "facilitating a medical procedure that is not just a medical procedure". Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle spoke in favour of the bill, making mention of views of others on the supposed push polling of some groups opposing the bill. Liberal Senator Nick Minchin, the new Leader of the Government in the Senate, spoke in support of Humphries and his views, and "was not persuaded to support [the] bill", and expressed his "conservative" views that life begun "from conception onwards". Family First Party Senator Steven Fielding spoke out against the bill also, likening the TGA as comprising of "unelected bureaucrats". He further commented that Family First cannot consider the social policy issues without considering social views, and drew attention to the TGA's response in the earlier Senate inquiry that the TGA "cannot consider social and ethical issues". Fielding drew attention to the guillotine being placed on the debate of the bill and the attitudes of the non-Government senators earlier criticising the Government on the industrial relations legislation being "rammed through" late last year.

Other senators, including Guy Barnett (Lib.), Helen Polley (Labor), also later spoke against the bill; Senators Judith Adams (Lib.), Ruth Webber (Labor) spoke in support.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • ABC NewsRadio broadcasts of the Senate, February 8, 2006
  • Australian Senate Hansard (pdf), February 8, 2006.

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