In 1996 Brian Harradine decided that it was necessary block the Therapeutic Goods Administration from considering the abortion pill RU486 and other abortifacients for use in Australia. Why? Apparently he believed "abortifacients amounted to a special category of drugs for which an additional layer of public scrutiny was required". What a load of codswallop. Make that an additional layer of impossibly thick red tape
to get through. Specifically, make that virtually impossible to import and use RU486 in Australia. And this has nothing to do with the fact he is a staunch/fundamendalist Catholic and would've liked to have banned abortion altogether (L. Buckmaster, 2005
Today the senate will decide whether to repeal Harradine's legislation
that stopped the TGA controlling RU486. But why are we even having this debate about whether the TGA or the Australian Parliament should control the approval of abortifacients? I belive Harradine's original bill in 1996 and opposition to today's bill on allowing TGA control of RU486 is all about politics and has absolutely nothing at all to do with protecting women
Why is it that when it comes to the issue of abortion that emotive words and religious beliefs hold are allowed to hold so much sway over the issue? Of course, the decision of whether to abort a foetus is a difficult ethical dilemma and one I'm glad I've never had to face. But all the emotive words from self-important men about moral obligations to carry through a pregnancy, and high-handed control over the approval of abortifacients in the senate to limit the options of women are not the slighest bit helpful to women who face this decision.
The TGA is specially charged with making drugs and other therapeutic products unavailable or available with restrictions, depending on how safe they consider the product to be. The TGA includes medical and chemical experts and I say let these experts do what they do best
. Let's not leave it up to (potentially) fundamentalist, misogynist or otherwise inexpert
politicians to decide such things.
Without exception, all of the politicians opposed to the bill are using their opposition as a way to express their disapproval of abortion itself, and secondly as a way to express that they would prefer that parliament say who has a baby and when. For some reason, when it comes to abortion, the pollies think they have a right to play God and enforce their personal morals on to the entire populace.
For example, Nick Minchin also wants to continue to block the Therapeutic Goods Administration from considering the abortion pill RU486 for use in Australia. Why? Because his former girlfriend had aborted what he assumed was his child
(presumably against his will). Controlling the importation and use of RU486 in parliament is really going to make him feel better, because now he can relish having a tiny bit more control over the next woman he impregnates.
And then we have ham-fisted Barnaby Joyce saying "There is a right of a person to proceed through life without another person believing they have a right to kill them." Good point Barnaby, but I'm not sure I quite get how this relates to foetuses and pregnancy.
In response to Barnaby and others who should exercise their brains a bit more, I must quote a few lines of Andrew Barlett's timely and well-though-out speech on RU486
To label as murderers people who choose to have an abortion or who assist someone to do that and to label RU486 as a human pesticide or a drug designed to kill babies is an abuse of language and a vilification of women. It is a vilification of women who find themselves in a situation of extreme difficulty. The last thing they need is this sort of abuse.
Want more? See a previous post I wrote on the topic
, involving a mad abbot on the hill.
My colleague, formerly a gynaecologist/obstetrician in China for 10 years, told me about the widespread use of RU486 in China and how it is available straight off the shelf in China. She also told me about its misuse and the ugly cases they have to deal with when the drug has been taken too late in a pregnancy. It is indisputably wrong that an abortifacient would be misused in this way without some sensible control of distribution of the drug by medical professionals. If the bill is passed today, I don't think anyone is asking for it to be available without restrictions or without qualified medical supervision. But let this be an issue to be managed properly, without emotive anti-logic and politics, but with attention to medical and ethical studies by the TGA and medical practitioners &ndash this is their area of expertise and let's allow them to apply it!
In finishing this rant, I must say it does seem interesting that RU486 is so freely available in China, where strict population control has been enforced for many years, not just with the one-child policy, but back to the time of the cultural revolution, where permission had to be obtained from the state for a couple to go ahead and have a child. Yet in Australia, where every so often we see frightening and alarmist articles about declining birthrates and aging populations, a drug like RU486 receives so much intense opposition.
Stop playing politics with our reproductive rights!Categorised as: politicsTechnorati Tags: RU486, abortion, anti-abortionist, Australian politics, abortion debate, Brian Harradine, Barnaby Joyce, Andrew Bartlett, Nick Minchin, gender politics