Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Access to abortion drug RU 486 does not increase the incidence of abortion, says Marie Stopes International national clinical adviser Jill Michelson (pic).

But Right to Life president Marcel White in Queensland, where abortion is against the law, has compared doctors at 14 clinics nationally run by the outfit who are to be allowed to prescribe the drug, to Al Qaeda.

According to Michelson:

"... The decision to have an abortion is a very difficult one for any woman - just because this is available people are not going to run out and have an abortion.

"There is no evidence from overseas, where (RU486) has been introduced to a country, that there has been any increase in abortions."

The case of Tegan Simone Leach, 19, of Cairns, has propelled the debate back onto news front pages. The Queensland premier, Anna Bligh has reiterated her government's opposition to decriminalising abortion. Leach used RU 486 that had been imported from the Ukraine to abort a pregnancy. She and her partner have faced community wrath and have been forced to move residence to avoid property damage, and possibly worse.

But Queensland law says nothing about medical abortion, such as applies when RU 486 is used. Only surgical abortion is illegal. It is legal to surgically abort when the physical and mental health of the woman is at risk. It seems likely that the statutes will need to be rewritten given that doctors at Marie Stopes in Caboolture and Salisbury will now be legally prescribing the drug.

Marie Stopes International is a UK-registered charity "providing a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare services to 4.8 million people worldwide in over 40 countries across Africa, the Arab World, Europe, Latin America and Asia", according to the website. Services include vasectomies and abortions.

The Queensland Criminal Code statutes proscribing abortion date from 1899.

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