Catholic Health to address abortion pill inquiry

Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan will tell today's Senate Inquiry into the approval of the abortion drug RU486, that it is not within the competence of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to judge the social implications of the proposed approval legislation.

CLICK HEREIn his opening remarks, released to CathNews, he said that that TGA can make technical judgments over the safety and quality of medications and pharmaceuticals for use in Australia's health system.

"It is not our contention to question the competency of the TGA or its track record or to raise concerns over any future technical advice it may provide in relation to RU486," he will say. "Rather it is our contention that the issue of whether RU486 should be prescribed and administered falls into the realm of considerations relating to degrees of social acceptability."

Mr Sullivan will suggest that the judgement as to whether a particular medication should be accessible in the wider community is ultimately a political decision.

"It is a judgement based on what is socially acceptable, not just technically feasible."

Meanawhile The Age website contains an AAP report that doctors, the Women's Electoral Lobby and a right to life group will be among those who will front the parliamentary inquiry.

The legislation was introduced into parliament by Nationals senator Fiona Nash on behalf of herself, Liberal senator Judith Troeth, Democrats senator Lyn Allison, and Labor senator Claire Moore.

Prime Minister John Howard has agreed to allow coalition MPs and senators a conscience vote next year when parliament debates the contentious issue of whether or not to remove a ban on the abortion pill.

Nationals Senate leader Ron Boswell is urging the community to take part in the inquiry into an important social issue.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Health Department, TGA, rural doctors, gynaecologists and the Women's Electoral Lobby are some of the groups expected to appear before the inquiry today.

Francis Sullivan: Opening Remarks: Senate Community Affairs Committee (Catholic Health Australia 15/12/05)
Call for submissions to RU486 inquiry (Senator Ron Boswell 14/12/05 - via Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Inquiry website

Groups to appear before abortion inquiry (The Age 15/12/05)
Abortion drug row reignites (The Courier Mail 15/12/05)
Efforts to legalize abortion in Colombia continue despite high court's ruling (Catholic News Agency 12/12/05)
Private group bill on RU486 to be strongly opposed (Senator Ron Boswell - distributed by Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Vote on abortion in Brazil postponed for second time (Catholic News Agency 8/12/05)
Pro-life MPs to oppose Bill (Herald-Sun/Australian Associated Press 8/12/05)
Bracks: Labor's social conservative (The Age 9/12/05)
Renate Klein: Abortion drug not the safest method (The Australian 9/12/05)

Note: The production of this story was affected by an extended Internet access outage.

15 Dec 2005