- Jul 31, 2005
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
- Slightly Liberal
ABBOTT LOSES VETO POWER OVER RU486
By BRONWYN HURRELL
AUSTRALIAN women will have access to the abortion pill RU486 if medical experts rubberstamp it, following a parliamentary vote in favour of lifting special restrictions on the drug.
Health Minister Tony Abbott yesterday lost his veto on RU486 in a crushing blow to him and other anti-abortion campaigners.
Only seven of the 36 female Lower House MPs voted to maintain the restriction - South Australian Trish Draper and Government backbenchers Bronwyn Bishop, De-Anne Kelly, Jackie Kelly, Danna Vale, Louise Markus and Sophie Panopolous.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration was handed power over the pill's availability in the 91 to 55 conscience vote.
It was a rare taste of defeat for Prime Minister John Howard. Nine ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, joined him.
Democrats Leader Lyn Allison, the Nationals' Fiona Nash, Liberal Judith Troeth and Labor's Claire Moore, who introduced the Bill in the Senate, celebrated "a win for women and their families". Senator Troeth said she felt "euphoria" over prevailing "against quite considerable odds" and that the vote was a triumph of reason over "emotional argument".
In explaining his opposition, Mr Howard said he believed Parliament should have the final say.
"There is just a whiff in this whole debate of this being a little too difficult and controversial, so let's give it to somebody else," he said.
Of the South Australians, Liberal Dr Andrew Southcott and Labor's Kate Ellis, Steve Georganas and Rod Sawford supported the Bill. Mr Downer, Ms Draper and fellow Liberals Christopher Pyne, Barry Wakelin, David Fawcett and Kym Richardson voted against it.
Mr Downer had previously spoken favourably about the Bill. But he told Parliament yesterday, "some of the criticisms of (Mr Abbott) have been quite effective in pushing me away from this Bill".
Two amendments to give Parliament the final say on the drug, put by Liberals Jackie Kelly and Dr Andrew Laming, failed.
But Dr Laming, who as an obstetrician has performed surgical abortions, said his amendment had not been aimed to "scuttle" availability of RU486, and supported the Bill.
A number of doctors, including Queensland's Caroline de Costa, are now taking their applications to use RU486 to the next step.
Right to Life Australia president Margaret Tighe said it was "the green light to another seemingly user-friendly means of killing unborn children".
Opposition Leader Kim Beazley and Labor health spokeswoman Julia Gillard voted yes. Only a handful of ALP members voted against.
Hahahaha! Pro-choicers losing the battle? Like hell they are. :roll:
(By the way, the Liberal Party is actually our conservative party... don't ask me why they chose that name.)