Greens spokesperson on women Senator Lee Rhiannon has questioned whether women can trust opposition leader Tony Abbott’s promise today that he will heed the advice of technical experts on abortion drugs and has called on him to definitively declare his position on women’s right to access the full range of reproductive health procedures.
“Abbott’s assurance that he will accept the advice of technical experts cannot be trusted if you look at his history during the Howard years,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“As Health Minister in 2005 Mr Abbott relied on limited advice from the Chief Health Officer on whether to lift the ban on RU486.
“Mr Abbott was criticised by the AMA’s rural taskforce and the Rural Doctor’s Association of Australia for failing to consult with them. He instead took the Chief Health Officer’s advice that rural and regional health services and GPs were not equipped to provide medical abortion.
“Women living in regional and rural areas have been disadvantaged ever since.
“The attitude of the Opposition leader to women’s rights is shaping up as issue of public interest in the coming election campaign.
“With the chance of the conservatives controlling the Senate as well as the House of Representatives the opposition leader needs to honestly declare his position on women’s right to access termination services.
“With conservative crossbenchers like Senator John Madigan and National Party members like Senator Ron Boswell waiting to wind back the clock on reproductive rights and abortion services here and overseas it is important we know where Abbott stands.
“In 2006 Mr Abbott stated in parliament ‘We have a bizarre double standard in this country where someone who kills a pregnant women’s baby is guilty of murder, but a woman aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice,” Senator Rhiannon said.