8 February 2006

Stanhope weighs into abortion pill debate

| Kerces
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For his usual unfathomable reasons Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has launched himself into the debate over RU486, a medicine which can be used for non-surgical abortions.

In a cross-party private members’ bill, five female senators are seeking to have control of RU486 taken from the Health Minister’s hands and given to the Theraputic Goods Administration.

The committee examining the bill, chaired by our very own Senator Gary Humphries, is due to report back late this afternoon. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow and the House of Representatives next week sometime.

Mr Stanhope says control of the drug should be given to the TGA because they are a “more appropriate vehicle for determining the safety” of it.

“[Heath Minister] Mr Abbott piously reminds Australians that the Federal Parliament decided in 1996 that decisions about abortion drugs were too important to be left in the hands of ‘unelected, unaccountable officials’,” Mr Stanhope said. “He now argues that he should retain his ministerial discretion to approve or reject RU486 because he, in contrast to the staff of the TGA, is answerable to the voters.

“He apparently believes that the Australian voters who happen to live in the 56 square kilometres that make up his federal electorate of Warringah should be the arbiters on this issue.”

The Chief Minister also has quite a rant about how the issue at hand here is women’s safety and that Tony Abbott is not in a better position that the TGA to determine what is better for women’s safety.

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In your face Abbott – in your face.

I love the way that this vote is now “a vote of no confidence in Government Ministers” – ffs, the people work at the TGA (at least until it gets stack with politicised appointments) are there because they have devoted years of their lives to knowing more about health, pharmaceuticals and the like than the standard party hack with a talent for finding the numbers. Go figure.

If you want an ban on abortion Minister, have the balls to put it up as a private members bill, enough of these doomed-to-fail backdoor shenanigans.

T-Bone makes a good comment there that has been overlooked in the Stanhope rant.

RU486 has other applications such as being extremely effective at combating brain tumours. The fact that it is on the restricted list means that if you require the drug for that purpose you can’t get it. Then you die.. Bad luck, all because some anti-abortion polititian doesn’t like it.

As for abortion, its been legalised because it is a choice issue. Shouldn’t taking the drug be the same. The ABC program indicated that RU486 is much less physically traumatic and has fewer side effects than the contraceptive pill.

Polititians should not be pressing their personal agenda on the rest of the nation.

TGA should be overseeing the issue as they are the experts in the matter.

I take your point Thumper but I’d say that all sides know it’s part of the game and always tend to operate on pretty pragmatic turf.

I remember Kennett used to piss Howard off regularly in the late 90s with his take on this, that and the other.

Politics and diplomacy are two different things, and I think Thumper’s suggesting that Stanhope needs to display the latter rather than the former in regards the feds.

My understanding is that the press-release game played by both political parties (in which they lash at each other publically) has very little impact on how they approach business with each other.

Absent Diane1:11 pm 08 Feb 06

Abbot should have nothing to do with this…. he is self proclaimed christian… and christian morals are in essence corrupted by a whole bunch of nonsense… on the CM debate… all the state leaders bug the hell out of the feds…. however if the state and feds were all from the same party it would be a different story..

I heard on the grapevine that Stanhope mainly comments on national affairs so that we can have an ACT angle to chat about here.

I’m going to make the same old point I always seem to make on this topic (CM talking about national issues) – he’s a territory leader and these issues affect his constituents so he has every right to say his piece. And besides, when was the last time you didn’t see a state/territory leader doing exactly the same thing.

Spik pollie ssanta? (Spikey?)

And yeah, obviously putting control of a single drug in the hands of a politician rather than the infinitely more knowledgable ones of the tga is a no-brainer.

Surely a woman would be better judge for this sort of thing, than some spik pollie surely?

Normally I dont agree with much of what the Chief Minister has to say, but on this occasion he has a point.

It shouldnt be forgotten that RU486 isnt actually a banned drug in Australia. It was placed on the “restricted goods” list in 1996 after Brian Harradine successfully got a bill passed in return for his support on a Telstra bill.

Any drug on the restricted goods list requires the Federal Health Minister of the day (currently Tony Abbott, a devout catholic) to give the thumbs up before it is allowed to be supplied in Australia.

One can only hope that parliamentary action in the coming days removes this drug from the restricted goods list, or that a supporter of the drug replaces Tony Abbott as health minister.

Whether the drug is safe is for the TGA to answer. Whether the drug should be taken is for the individual to make, probably with their GP. No need for a Polly in this equation.
I was also watching a tv program the other weekend on ABC (I think) that was outlining how the drug can also be used to treat a form of brain cancer and some other things. Funny how we don’t hear about the other applications of the drug outside abortion.

My first thought was the usual “why?”

But the legality of abortion is a Territory matter. And the Territory’s representatives have decided, on balance, that it should be legal

So the bizarre, one off treatment of a medicine which can be used to make the procedure safer is heading into the stanhopian realm.

So is there an analogy to (abuse of) Corbell’s call-in powers, where he goes around the independent body to do what he wants?

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