After Howard’s depressing statement about same-sex marriage this week, the minor RU486 victory is especially sweet. I couldn’t sum up the issue any better than Moment to Moment. I wonder if sending a letter to our representative would do any good, seeing as how I’m not technically a voting citizen just yet…


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  1. Notice how it’s all the male politicians saying they won’t be supporting the bill…

  2. If it had gone the other way, it would have been a travesty.

  3. Crumpet –

    To quote Ronald Reagan:

    “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”

  4. None of us said anything about being for abortion, Jason. Please don’t sensationalize the issue. If you read the explanation on Moment to Moment that I linked to, you’ll see that the issue is that EVERY OTHER drug in Australia is governed by the TGA. Yet for some reason RU486 was under the sole control of Health Minister Tony Abbott. (Who is a bootlicking, cringing, jerk… and a Catholic male, not that those things are related, but they make him uniquely unqualified in my opinion to be the SOLE arbiter of whether this drug is available or not.) If Australians want to reopen the abortion debate, so be it. But using dodgy tactics to close down the availability of abortions – which are LEGAL in this country – is, as Moment to Moment put it, disingenuous as best. Leave the drug decisions up to the experts, not someone who has a moral conflict of interests.

    (And besides, that’s a dumb quote. There are a lot of people for abortion that quite easily could have been aborted. A lot of people – myself included – are acutely conscious of being unplanned and possibly greatly changing the course of someone’s life. Were I in the same position, I can’t say that I would necessarily choose the same outcome.)

  5. Kris –

    I don’t think I’m sensationalizing the issue at all. While the letter posted at the Moment to Moment site did address the discrepancy with the TGA and this particular drug, the majority of the letter dealt with having access to the drug and the ease of obtaining an abortion in Australia. Now, other posts on Moment to Moment deal more heavily with the TGA issue, but I would go so far as saying that a letter to a Federal Member would be a good summary for Kate’s overall stance. Since normally that’s what you do in a letter to a politician – summarize your agreements/disagreements with a particular issue.

    On the other hand, banning RU-486 in no way “closes down access to abortion” like you say because you already say that abortion is LEGAL in Australia, and to quote the Moment to Moment letter, “I am extremely thankful to live in a country which has safe, legal access to abortion.”

    Also, by saying I am sensationalizing the issue by bringing up abortion is a bit off in regards to what RU-486 does. Taking RU-486 performs a non-surgical abortion. The drug causes the body to shed the uterine lining by blocking progesterone. This in turn causes anything implanted there to come out with it. So I’m not making a “huge leap” by bringing up abortion with RU-486, nor am I sensationalizing the issue by using a quote mentioning abortion.

    Finally, I do agree with you that people are presented with many difficult decisions with unplanned pregnancies. I’ve walked in those shoes – so I can speak from first hand experience of the life changes. I’ve had to give up personal dreams/goals in lieu of now being responsible for someone other than myself. And there I agree with Kate’s letter where she states additional education and support needs to be provided to women.

  6. But the debate in the House of Representatives was not about abortion. It was about a DRUG, and who has the jurisdiction and knowledge to approve and control that drug. Lots of drugs can kill you or do bad things to your body. Hell, a lot of them can harm unborn children. So why shouldn’t this particular one be classed in with all the others? This is the real question, and as soon as you bring up abortion, you’re changing the issue.

    I could argue the abortion point further, but to be honest I regret being baited into that argument in the first place. It’s entirely possible to be anti-choice and still disagree that a sole member of government should have the right of refusal on a particular drug when all of the others are handled elsewhere. You’re making what should be a purely logical and political issue into a moral and sensational one.

  7. Other potential uses for RU486:
    certain breast cancers
    ovarian cancer
    meningioma(brain tumour)
    Cushing’s syndrome
    adrenal cancer
    uterine fibroid tumours
    induction of labour
    cervical ripening

    You’re right Jason, I think I’d rather have my access to brain tumor treatment in the hands of some pro-life nutbag politician who doesn’t trust medical experts to handle it safely.
    Those uppity bastards at the TGA have had it too good for too long! We should share the drugs up amongst the federal ministers and MPs. I’d like to see people have to apply to Bronwyn Bishop for their prescription of viagra, although that may see the birthrate plummet somewhat. Obviously Alexander Downer would be in charge of the anti-depressants. And maybe Costello could look after all general antibiotics – although he’d have to be careful not to touch them lest they eat away at his skin like acid.

    By the way, interesting that this drug can be used for cervical ripening. I tend to just leave mine on the window-sill in the sun for a few days.

  8. “…lest they eat away at his skin like acid.”

    *SNORT* Thank you so much for that. 🙂

  9. 1) On the RU486-controlled-by-TGA-or-Health-Minister issue, I have yet to hear a convincing argument against the bill that is not related to abortion (which is not the point – abortion is legal and the bill had nothing to do with that). All the arguments are either hysterical rants like Heffernan’s, with abortion apparently being synonymous with slavery, or they are about the ethics of abortion and choice (not about TGA or non-TGA). Tony Abbott bleating about this being a no-confidence vote against Federal Ministers is just pathetic butt-covering and not an argument at all, as we have a whole process for no-confidence motions in parliament, and they don’t look like this bill.

    2) On the abortion issue (since clearly any debate about RU486 cannot ignore the abortion question), the majority view of Australians is that ABORTION IS LEGAL. There are excellent health-related reasons why it should be legal that have nothing to do with the issue of free choice or the ethical question of when life commences. Abortion in this country is in fact only legal if there is a mental or physical health risk to the mother or to the child if it carried to term. The health issues should be foremost in this debate – many women over the course of history have died because of pregnancies that should not have gone to term, or from inexpertly performed abortions, and I wouldn’t like to be the person who stood up and claimed that my moral stance was more important than women’s lives.

    3) This is also an issue of moral choice and moral freedom. I don’t try to force other people to believe what I believe about abortion and I would like other people to extend the same courtesy. People are welcome to believe what they want to believe. People don’t have to have an abortion if they think it’s wrong (and where would Peter Costello’s breed for Australia programme be without the unwed teenage mothers?).

  10. Oh, wait a second, Cait. I think I was misunderstanding Tony’s whole “no-confidence” bleating. I was interpreting that as “Gee, everybody really does think I suck!” and feeling a little surprised that he’d just say something like that out loud. I gather from your first point though, that the real interpretation is that he thinks people just voted the way they did because they’re annoyed at the government, not that they really think RU486 should be controlled by the TGA. Is that right? Because you’re right; that’s totally pathetic. (This just serves to remind me of how little I know about the government of the country I live in. I’m still a little iffy on the whole “conscience vote” thing – like shouldn’t *every* vote be a conscience vote?)

  11. “Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion,” sayeth the peanut gallery.

  12. Under the Westminster system (and particularly in the UK, Canada and Australia), most parliamentary voting happens along party lines – the convention is that you vote according to what is the established Liberal/Labor/Democrats/Greens position on any given issue, and it’s very bad form indeed not to; if you develop a pattern over time of doing this, your colleagues will start looking askance at you, demanding to know where your loyalties lie, etc (i.e. the path Barnaby Joyce is fitfully headed along at the moment). But there are some issues that are thought to transcend party politics, especially if they have moral or ethical weight (e.g., the RU-486 thing; the euthanasia vote a few years ago) – in these cases, party discipline is dispensed with, and you’re allowed to vote as you personally feel is appropriate: the conscience vote.

  13. Personally I prefer US politics, where parties exist because a group of parliamentarians share a common view on core issues, rather than the other way around which is how Australia does it (ie join party then have to follow what the party thinks – call me cynical but how much power does a backbencher really have in shaping party politics?). Not only is it more interesting, but I think it leads to more genuine representation of the views of the electorate. On the other hand, it costs more, because all pollies have to campaign on their issues, rather than just the party campaigning…

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