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Democrat moves to reduce restrictions on RU486 condemned
Issued: 1 March 2001

Spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Association, Alison Hope, today condemned moves by Senator Meg Lees, current leader of the Australian Democrats, to abolish restrictions on abortifacient drugs like RU486 being imported into Australia.

Yesterday evening Senator Lees moved amendments are to the Therapeutic Goods Act, to ensure that it no longer obliges the Health Minister to report to the Australian Parliament any decision to allow the importation of abortifacient drugs.

"Given the language used by Senator Lees, people would be forgiven for thinking that the Therapeutic Goods Act does not allow the importation of abortifacient drugs. It does no such thing. The only restriction is to oblige the Health Minister to report to the Australian Parliament any decision to import an abortifacient drug", said Ms Hope.

"Senator Lees’ attempts to subvert the provisions which ensure that the Health Minister is accountable to the Australian Parliament and through the Parliament to the Australian people is extremely disappointing. It seems that ‘keeping the bastards honest’ does not extend to abortifacient drugs. Instead Senator Lees wants to make sure ‘the bastards’ aren’t accountable to the people for their decisions.

There are a number of important points to remember about RU486:

  • it is not a way to avoid an abortion, where a woman can merely take a couple of pills and is no longer pregnant;
  • in order to be used with any degree of safety, RU486 requires multiple visits to hospitals or abortion clinics;
  • by itself it does not have a very high success rate in achieving an abortion and must be used in conjunction with a powerful prostaglandin drug to induce uterine contractions;
  • it also may be painful and may involve moderate to severe cramps and bleeding; and,
  • it can further isolate women who are often already desperate and unsupported, leaving them to undergo the abortion process and possibly face the sight of their 4-7 week old aborted child alone.

"Our society is capable of providing women who are pregnant in difficult circumstances with better, more supportive solutions than drugs such as RU-486."

Media contact: Alison Hope, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, 02 6253 3100