Churches lead RU406 protest

Churches across Australia mounted a last-ditch battle against the abortion pill RU486 yesterday and said at least 75,000 signatures of protest had been collected for federal politicians.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that clergy spoke out at services against legislation to axe restrictions on the drug, and petitions were distributed to allow churchgoers to register their protests. At least 1000 signatures were collected at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

Today's Australian newspaper quotes Fr Pat McCabe, who told his St Patrick's Church Hill congregation in the Sydney CBD: "Many of the doctors say there is no more risk in the abortion pill than what there is in the surgical abortion. Well, whatever way you do it, babies are going to die."

The recently established lobby group Australians Against RU486 co-ordinated the petitions and will begin an advertising and education campaign this week as the Senate starts public hearings on the pill in Sydney and Melbourne. Politicians are expected to vote on a private member's bill to remove ministerial control over RU486 when Parliament resumes next week.

The executive director of Australians Against RU486, Simone Holzapfel, said the campaign would send a message that many people opposed the drug's use.

Yesterday's Catholic Weekly reported that Fr Eugene Ahern, a campaign co-ordinator and parish priest at St Francis Xavier Church, Frankston, Melbourne, said the aim of yesterday's National Day was "to get worshippers at churches all over Australia writing letters to the senators from their state on this day".

"Every effort will be made to maximise the number of letters written to the 76 senators who will decide the fate of the bill and ultimately the thousands of Australian babies who would die if RU486 is allowed into Australia," he said.

Last week, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne expressed the desire of the Church to help present positive solutions for those faced with a decision whether to have an abortion.

"We want to work with Government agencies to improve such non-abortion alternatives," he said. "With one in four pregnancies in Australia ending in abortion, the abysmal fact remains that the most dangerous place for an Australian to be is in the womb of his or her mother. Simply providing more choices for abortion, like the importation and prescription of the abortion drug RU 486, is no solution at all."

Churches lead pill protest (Sydney Morning Herald 30/1/06)
Finances and dads prompt abortion (The Australian 30/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Inquiry into Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial responsibility for approval of RU486) Bill 2005
Australians Against RU486

Day of action to fight abortion drug move (CathNes 27/1/06)
Melbourne Archbishop says maintain abortion drug ban (CathNews 25/1/06)
Pope says 'no' to gay marriage, abortion pill (CathNews 13/1/06)
Catholic Health to address abortion pill inquiry (CathNews 15/12/06)

Anti-abortion drug campaign urges Australians to write to Senators today (catholicireland.net 27/1/06)
Churchgoers urged to oppose abortion pill (The Courier Mail 30/1/06)
Churches involved in anti-abortion pill campaign (Sydney Morning Herald 29/1/06)

30 Jan 2006