International Abortion News

And for once, it’s actually good. First, Australia ends their ridiculous ban on medical abortion*, and takes the control of the procedure away from their health minister. The responses from politicians are particularly interesting:

The issue split Prime Minister John Howard and his heir-apparent, Peter Costello.

Mr Howard voiced his opposition to the bill, saying it was the duty of parliament to take responsibility for making difficult decisions for the country.

But Mr Costello voted to remove the power of the health minister, after telling parliament how he had to decide whether to abort an unborn child as his wife lay ill and unconscious in hospital, 18 years ago.

“The choice I made was to continue both the treatment and the pregnancy. By the grace of God, both survived,” he said.

“I have no doubt that the law should not have prevented such a choice – that the law should allow a choice, whether physical or mental health of the woman is at risk,” Mr Costello said.

“It’s the duty of parliament to take responsibility for making difficult decisions for the country” vs. “It’s the duty of individual women to make these difficult decisions for themselves.” I know which side I land on. Good on Australia.

Next, the UK considers allowing women to have medical abortions* at home. Allowing women to terminate their pregnancies at home offers them more privacy, and another choice. Women in some parts of the United States, and women across many European nations, already have access to this choice. UK women deserve it, too.

Thanks to Anne for the links.

*Terminology note: Medical abortion refers to the very early-term procedure (9 weeks or earlier) in which a pregnancy is terminated by taking a combination dose of methotrexol, mifepristone and misoprostol. It’s commonly known as “RU-486″ or “The Abortion Pill.” The other –and more common — option is surgical abortion, of which there are various kinds.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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4 Responses to International Abortion News

  1. Kristen from MA says:

    wow! it must be ‘trolls’ day off’

  2. cicely says:

    Furthur info on the Australian situation – I posted this at Alas a few days ago:

    I am re-visiting this thread with an update. Yesterday, in a conscience vote (meaning government members are permitted to vote according to their conscience and not along party lines), the Australian Senate voted on a private member’s bill to take the decision about whether the RU486 ‘morning after’ abortion pill should be made available to women in Australia out of the hands of the conservative Health Minister and put into the hands of the Therapeutic Goods Authority. This would allow the decision to rest on issues of safety rather than religiously informed morality. (Incidentally, Australia’s Health Minister once seriously considered entering a Catholic Seminary and becoming a priest…)

    The bill passed (hooray!) by 45 votes to 28. Female Senators from *all* parties co-sponsored the bill and of the 26 women who voted, 23 supported it. Being such a sensitive issue, there was no whooping and hollering etc, but a quiet ‘Well done, girls, well done’, was heard after the result was announced.

    I am not generally a supporter of the party or politics of this country’s immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone, but I did enjoy this illustrative comment she made:

    “One of the men said…he doesn’t want abortion to be any easier and a pill would necessarily be easier. Well, hello. Clearly he has never had the mindset of it ever happening to him. It is not going to happen to him. It is not going to happen to him because he is a boy.”

    I offer this in support of my arguement that if only women were permitted to vote on the abortion issue, there would virtually be no issue….

    Furthur reading in The Australian newspaper revealed this…

    ‘Democrats leader Lyn Allison, who kickstarted the debate with a private members bill last year and revealed on the eve of the debate she had undergone a termination as a teenager in rural Victoria, said she simply felt “relief”.

    “In my first speech in this place I said I hoped one day to see a time when women would cross the floor in solidarity on women’s issues and that’s what happened today…”

  3. Jill says:

    Thanks for the update, Cicely. I just want to clarify one thing:

    Yesterday, in a conscience vote (meaning government members are permitted to vote according to their conscience and not along party lines), the Australian Senate voted on a private member’s bill to take the decision about whether the RU486 ‘morning after’ abortion pill should be made available to women in Australia out of the hands of the conservative Health Minister and put into the hands of the Therapeutic Goods Authority.

    For those in the U.S., the “morning-after” pill typically refers to Emergency Contraception, which is not the same thing as RU-486, the “abortion pill.” EC/the morning after pill is a high does of the same hormones found in birth control pills; it prevents pregnancy from occuring in the first place, and cannot end an established pregnancy. RU-486/the abortion pill terminates an existing pregnancy.

    Just wanted to make that clear, since the two are often confused.

  4. cicely says:

    Thanks for clearing that up, Jill. The confusion was in my own mind. I do understand clearly now that RU-486 is an alternative to surgical abortion to terminate an existing pregnancy.

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