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IN mid-March, the US Food and Drug Administration announced there had been two more deaths of women using RU486 for abortion.

These deaths were not in California, where the previous four deaths happened, so it was not a local problem caused by a “bad batch” of the drug.

Before these latest deaths, Michael Greene in the New England Journal of Medicine on December 1, 2005, estimated that abortion with RU486 was 10 times more dangerous than surgical abortion.

Now, on a rough calculation, it appears to be 15 times more dangerous.

The gang of four of senators, Fiona Nash (National), Judith Troeth (Liberal), Lyn Allison (Democrats) and Claire Moore (Labor), tabled the Bill to remove control of RU486 from Health Minister Tony Abbott.

They were very vocal immediately after their victory in unleashing RU486 to the control of the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

They were collectively observed at drinks celebrating their victory.

Family First senator Steve Fielding displayed on his website a picture of an invitation to the celebratory drinks party pinned to the office door of one of the pro-RU486 senators.

He was ordered by the President of the Senate to remove the picture from his website.

Perhaps the senators were embarrassed to appear to be celebrating the release of a drug that not only kills unborn babies but has resulted in the deaths of several mothers.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which now has control over the importation of RU486, has a mixed record: think of arthritis drugs Vioxx and Celebrex, approved, but now under a cloud because of association with heart attack deaths.

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said: “The FDA has pulled other drugs that have caused fewer deaths and less severe complications than RU486.

“Why the double standard for an abortion drug that is

now linked to the deaths of seven healthy women (another death was in Canada) and over 850 other reported complications, some of them life-threatening?

“Two more families are grieving because the FDA refuses to pull this dangerous drug from the market.”

Fresh from their RU486 victory, the gang of four has made a submission to Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer requesting that Australian aid be used to promote “reproductive rights for women”.

THESE are code words for abortion in East Timor.

Currently Aus-Aid cannot be used for abortion overseas. The senators seem oblivious to the recent admission by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities that legalising abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

Poland and Ireland, where abortions are illegal, have among the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.

The UN now states that what women need is better maternal care and the presence of skilled attendants at births. This is how Australian aid money should be spent.

East Timor is predominantly a Catholic country and the senators’ advocacy for abortion as a solution to poverty will go down like a lead balloon.

What the senators should be lobbying for is a better deal between East Timor and Australia over the oil deposits in the Timor Sea.

Since the two new RU486 deaths in the US were publicised by the FDA, there has been a welcome silence from our gang of four senators. Let’s hope it stays that way, unless they would like to admit they were wrong.

I feel sorry for Senator Allison. During the RU486 debate she said she had had an abortion when she was 18 and if she had not she would not be a senator today.

When she retires or, more likely, loses her seat at the next election, I wonder what she will think of her Faustian bargain.

Her only child would now have been about 42 years old.

She has lost, as Bob Ellis said about all abortions, “someone who would have loved her”.




BABETTE FRANCIS is co-ordinator of the Endeavour Forum, a counter- feminist, anti-abortion group



Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN