Battle lines being drawn on abortion
By RACHEL SCOLLAY
FEDERAL Member for Page Ian Causley says there is no push within the National Party to get abortion back on the political agenda, however, he didn't see any harm in debating the issue.
"I'm not a prude in any way, but I don't believe abortion should be for convenience," he said.
The abortion debate was reignited this week when senior National's Senator Ron Boswell requested detailed information about the number and cost of abortions performed in Australia, amid speculation he planned to introduce a private member's Bill to change Medicare funding for the operation.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard has ruled out restricting access to abortions.
The renewed debate has been welcomed by Lismore Catholic prayer group Apostles For Life, and greeted with dismay by those working in women's health.
Pamela Ashton, from the Lis- more and District Women's Health Centre, said despite legal abortion being available in NSW since 1972, it was an issue that had to be continually fought for.
She said if anything was done to restrict access to abortions, which included 'tampering' with Medicare, it would simply drive them underground.
Currently, Northern Rivers women wanting an abortion had to go to Tweed Heads for surgery, and the cost was $250 with a Medicare card or $190 with a Health Care card, she said.
"Women have always had and always will have abortions," Ms Ashton said.
"It will become a cost on the public health system as women will need to seek medical attention for botched-up jobs.
"I think it is hypocritical of these conservative men to try and start this debate. They are the same ones who stigmatise single mothers and drastically cut back funding to Family Planning Services."
Michele Marychurch, from Apostles For Life, said with soaring infertility rates, the time was right to re-examine the issue of abortion.
She said just investigating the numbers and the amount of public funding going towards abortion would make doctors more accountable.
"It's a multi-billion dollar industry," she said.
"I don't think women are well informed enough (when deciding whether or not to abort). Adoption is more of a dirty word than abortion these days."
Mr Causley said he was not against Medicare paying for abortions, 'as long as it was legitimate'.
However, he was 'very concerned' about late-term abor- tions.