Thursday, February 16, 2006

RU486 Follow Up

Further to our discussion yesterday, I almost choked over my brekkie this morning, when I opened up my Herald Sun and found this article. Apparently, Victorian MPs were instrumental in swinging the vote to lift the 'ban' on abortion. This reporting is misleading, innocently at best and downright wilfully at worst.

Firstly, who gives a rat's bum if Victorian MPs voted 3 to 1 in favour? The quote is 'Federal Victorian MPs cleared the way for drug to hit shelves.' Rubbish.

Secondly, the 'ban' on abortion has nothing to do with this drug. In Victoria, abortion is illegal (s65 Crimes Act). So is unlawfully supplying or procuring anything which will cause an abortion (s66 Crimes Act). Therefore, where a drug like RU486 is banned, it is illegal for a doctor to supply it. Where the drug is not banned, it becomes lawful to prescribe it, but the fact of abortion remains illegal. The fact it is almost never prosecuted does not mean it is legal.

The 'ban' is the ban on the importation of a drug. The ban is only a ban because we have a fruitcake Catholic Health Minister. Ministers of any stripe should not be able to make a decision on the safety of a drug, whether they are raging evangelicals or raging small 'l' liberals. These decisions are for competent authorities.

So, what 'Victorian MPs' have done is remove the power of any Minsiter to restrict access to a drug, as long as it is deemed safe and effective in the treatment of abortion. What they have not done is remove the ban on abortion. Given abortion is a crime under State law, and the States have responsibility for crime, Victorian MPs need to be proper Victorian MPs before they can lift any ban on abortion itself.

I really shouldn't read the Herald Sun (or look at the pictures as it were) in the morning, it makes my blood pressure way too high when I get to work.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dash Brannigan said...

Are you sure abortion is illegal? I'm pretty sure it is. Otherwise this place -

http://www.womensclinic.com.au/abfaq.html -

is commiting a whole bunch of crime. According to this site abortion has been legal since the Menhennit Ruling in 1969. If you can check this for me I would be most thankful.

10:05 pm  
Blogger Not my real name said...

Sure it is - by statute. The common law has an exception (in Vic) where the procedure is necessary to protect the physical or mental health of the mother.

The problem is, this is COMMON LAW, not STATUTE LAW. So, the medical practitioner has the freedom to interpret what their common law obligation is. That is why abortions IN FACT take place, even though they are supposed to be banned BY LAW.

Of course, in all areas of law, the law is that which is enforced. Basically, the policy do not prosecute abortion as a crime. I am not sure why, maybre because it is a giant pain in the bum to prove whether the proceudure was necessary, given the state of health of the mother.

In any case, this article from 1995 is not a bad potted history:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/disp.pl/au/special/alta/alta95/crowleysmith.html?query=%22abortion%22+and+%22victoria%22

I'm not aware of any substantial changes in the law since then.

If you need a common law -v- statute law explanation, let me know.

10:36 pm  
Blogger Dash Brannigan said...

Oh by the way... you should always read the Herald Sun. Not to know what's going on, better sources for that but to know what everyone else is thinking.

6:06 am  
Blogger Not my real name said...

I agree, it taps into popoular thought and especially popular anger incredibly well.

4:00 pm  
Blogger Dash Brannigan said...

Exactly. Much like satanic tea leaves.

6:32 pm  

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