February 16, 2006


Posted in Uncategorized at 2:49 pm by thelawthoughts

People commentating on the RU486 debate (except me) are missing the point. Much is being made of Peter Costello’s forced choice to abort his wife’s baby or lose them both, the doctor who had to perform them every day, Lyn Allison who actually had one herself. THIS DEBATE IS NOT ABOUT ABORTION.

From the outset, my position is anti-abortion but pro-choice. I hate the idea of abortion but believe in peoples’ right to choose. I am especially upset about situations like this, where rape victims can’t get the morning after pill because some pharmacists won’t stock it on moral grounds. If we keep this debate going on about abortion, that is what will happen in Australia.

What the debate is really about is WHO gets to choose whether to import the drug. Both sides of Parliament in general are anti-abortion. We all agree. The debate in Parliament centred on how competent the Minister for Health (any one, not just this one) was to make a decision as to the desirability of import of a drug. In the media, all we get is ABORTION! ABORTION! Sides of the debate, for convenience, I will call side 1 and side 2.

Side 1 says that abortion is bad but the best way for women to be treated safely is to let the Theraputic Drugs Administration choose whether drugs are safe for use. If we leave the decisions in their hands, then the drug will be imported only when competent authorities choose to allow it.

Side 2 says that abortion is bad and therefore the best way to make sure only safe drugs are used is by making the Minister tell Parliament when he or she decides to import a drug.

Everybody is going on and on about how bad abortion is, but I REPEAT, this is the wrongdebate. The Bill is not about whether we are for or against abortion, it is whether the best way to ensure safe treatment with new drugs is by letting an unaccountable but theoretically independent and competent body make import decisions, or whether to make those decisions subject to the more intense Parliamentary scrutiny.



  1. Props for looking deeper into the debate than most, most people don’t know what the Bill is about, you do which is good. However, in this case you are wrong about where the debate lies (the mob got that one right by chance).

    Yes, the debate is about who controls the import of RU486 and at present this control lies with the Minister for Health. However, RU486 is the ONLY drug which the Minister has control over.

    It is that way because Ministerial Control of the drug was one of the bargaining chips given to Brian Haradine to support the sale of Telstra. It has nothing to do with the dangers of the drug since this would be a SCIENTIFIC question (best answered by the TGA), but rather the POLITICS of the drug. The Politics of the drug like it or not is about abortion.

    In terms of safe use of a drug the TGA is equipped to handle the testing of such things, that’s what they are there to do! Also I’m very happy that all drugs are not subject to parliamentary scrutiny because as can be seen in this case it makes what should be a question of SCIENCE into a question of POLITCS.

    This debate is not about the drugs safety and never has been, it is about abortion. It might not be the Bill our representatives are voting on but it sure is what they are arguing.

  2. Fair enough – I didn’t know all that. In any case, these should be scientific questions, it is a shame they are based on politics. However, I guess that is the reality and you are never going to separate abortion from politics.

    Interesting that even when a Bill says one thing, often it is used to argue on a whole different agenda.

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