Friday, February 10, 2006

RU 4 RU486?

I have been building up a head of steam for several days now about the legislative amendment that was passed in the Senate yesterday concerning RU486. It is absolutely horrifying the way the terms of the amendment have been completely hijacked and ignored by lobby groups from both sides of the abortion fence.

Let's get this clear, everyone. The amendment is about whether the Health Minister (that is, Tony Abbott, who is not a medical practitioner or a pharmacist) or the Therapeutic Goods Administration (which is a unit of a Government department) should be able to decide whether this drug is safe enough to be made available by prescription to Australian women. The amendment is not about whether women should be allowed to abort fetuses: it is not even about whether this method of abortion is safer than other (legal) methods of abortion. It is about who gets to make the decision.

Whether this amendment is passed by the House of Reps next week or not, the legal status of abortion will not change. The availability of RU486 as a method of carrying out abortions may not change, either, depending on the decision of the TGA. All that will change is that Tony Abbott will no longer have the right to make decisions about the availability of drugs that he personally will never use. So he can stop meddling with women's bodies and go meddle with his own.

There's a scare campaign going on that has convinced some wimpy politicians that Mr Abbott is the only person in the country who can protect Aussie women from gruesome and painful death. The campaign features ads that claim women will die if RU486 becomes available by prescription. But consider the statistics:
The Medical Journal of Australia says that the maternal death rate in Australia in 2003 was 8.2 deaths per 100,000 women. On the other hand, the death rate for women who used RU486 is 1 in 200,000. In other words, RU486 is about 15 times safer than continuing with a pregnancy.
*** Please note: these are statistics. I am not trying to prove that abortion by RU486 is better than pregnancy in all, or any, cases. I am simply trying to show that the scare campaign about women dying from RU486 is missing the point of both the abortion debate and the actual amendment to the legislation.***

You know, I love to keep in regular correspondence with my local MP, and I'd write to her about this but I know she's already on my side. But if you have an MP who may need encouragement to vote to get RU486 assessed by a properly qualified Government body rather than Tony Abbott, then join GetUp's campaign. Please.

Yes, I know the heading of this entry is also missing the point of the amendment. But it got your attention, didn't it?


Linda said...

And you know what the SCARIEST thing about the whole debate is????

Readers from outside Australia, please ignore - you will not understand.

I find myself on the same side as Amanda Vanstone. Scary. But nice. There may be a tiny bit of hope for the woman yet.

true2life said...

hmm.. maybe the TGA will 'personally never use' the drugs either.. hmmm.. maybe the TGA will be meddling in bodies other than their own too... don't see the same emotive adjectives or verbs used there though.. of all people you ought to know to play the ball not the 'man' (or is there maybe just a hitn of truth in tha fact that the relevant minister is a 'man' that even allows ytou to make such a comment.

FYI,and FWIW I agree, it is just about who gets to make the decision.. and people have missed that point.. but the tone of your post makes me just want to argue with you over side issues... which is your point in the first place, people sidetracking the debate into side issues.

beche-la-mer said...

Sprung, eh, by true2life! Yet the laws of the game are rather murky here on the man/ball situation. I think I could get off my one-match suspension on appeal.
I'm not such a man-hater that his possession of testicles is what makes me mad about Tony Abbott. What I dislike about him and the rest of the party he represents is the fact that, although the majority of Australians disagree with their policies in several major areas, they persist in believing that they have a "mandate" to impose their party line or (in this case) personal beliefs on the country. This is not truly democratic and has nothing to do with the "man" or the "ball".
The TGA is a legislated, government-appointed review body, consisting of qualified people whose sex is unimportant in the medical and pharmaceutical review process. This process, I believe, is more likely to produce a result that is in line with the will of the majority of Australians -- "democratic" -- than one person with a misplaced belief in his party's mandate.
But, I will admit, I don't like Tony Abbott and as this is my blog I don't have any qualms about using emotive language to say so.
And, like Chloe, I also don't like Amanda Vanstone, despite her lack of testicular apendages. So I guess it's just Liberal Party members.
(Mind you, I did feel a twinge of kinship with Mandy when she said she was going to stab the PM in the eye with a pencil...)

true2life said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
true2life said...

I had put up a longer post, but deleted it and decided not to bother, I don't want that kind of hassle... so in (not so) short instead.

A few small portions of your orignal post alter its entire tone from informational to derogatory.
So he can stop meddling with women's bodies and go meddle with his own. and wimpy politicians.

The comment I wish to make is this: There is a world of difference in human interaction when adversarial arguements begin with the tone that the other side means well but is ill-informed, rather than the far more common situation, which I find also here in your blog, when the other side is entirely held in disdain or contempt.

In closing, by the way - I am happy for the TGA to be the place where decisions on availability are made. (though I can recall numerous cases where the USA equivalent of the TGA has been later found to make flawed decisions) BUT I understand why some see this as part of a wider issue for which they are unwilling to cede the decision to the TGA. I might disagree with them, but I can at least still respect their thought processes and reasoning.

Cherie said...

Is there room on that soapbox for me too?? Thanks for the link to Get Up - well done and Thanks for your usual eloquence!

beche-la-mer said...

Redness, you can share a soapbox with me any time! Climb up and hang on...

True2life: I know what you're trying to say and I do take your criticism to heart. You've known me long enough to realise that truth and fair play is important to me. Don't give up on me! I simply reiterate that the purpose of this blog is to express my personal opinion, not necessarily to present a dispassionate analysis.

Grangry said...

Here's the view of a simple foreigner, Beche. No one man or woman should have the power to veto the use of any therapeutic drug for any reason. Once a drug has been properly tested and declared safe for therapeutic use, it should be released on prescription and the decision to use it or not should rest with the patient and their clinician. This is because there is No Effective Medicine without side effects and patients must be able to make their own informed decisions and their clinician is the one to help them do that.