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Partial-birth abortion should be banned in Australia - 6 November 2003

Early today Australian time the United States president George Bush signed into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which bans abortions where the baby is partially delivered before its life is taken.

The ban on partial-birth abortions in the United States is welcome news and Australian governments should follow suit, said spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph.

"The legislation passed by a margin of 2-1 in the US House of Representatives because partial birth abortion is not medically necessary for women's health and is a grotesque procedure. The final vote in the Senate on 22 October was 64-34," Ms Joseph said.

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act defines a partial-birth abortion as any abortion in which the baby is delivered "past the navel outside the body of the mother", or "in the case of head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother", before being killed. It deals with a type of abortion performed after 20 weeks gestation. The legislation allows an exception if the procedure was ever necessary to save a mother's life.

"Australian State and Territory Governments should ban partial-birth abortions. The Australian Government should stop paying for this inhumane and repugnant procedure through Medicare."

"Australia has one of the world's most prominent advocates of partial-birth abortion, Dr David Grundmann. Dr Grundmann is founder and medical director of Planned Parenthood of Australia, a chain of abortion clinics with outlets in Townsville, Rockhampton, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Newcastle and Melbourne.

"In 1998 Dr David Grundmann said 'I'm personally happy to do terminations at 26, 28, 30 weeks'. These are all ages at which a premature baby can survive.

"Dr Grundmann is willing to perform partial-birth abortions for 'minor or doubtful fetal abnormalities', for 'women who do not know they are pregnant' , 'major changes in socio-economic circumstances' such as the death of a partner and for sex selection."

Contact:    Mary Joseph, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02 6253 3100