The ALP are trying to make some political mischief over the RU486 debate from 2006.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek on Tuesday night called on Mr Abbott to clarify his position on RU486 and abortion. She said as health minister he had voted in parliament to maintain his veto over the use of RU486, but he now said he didn’t oppose the drug.
Compare that sort of comment with what the then leader of the ALP Kim Beasley said during the Parliamentary debate (pg. 38-39):
I think the level of focus that has been on the minister’s moral convictions has been unfair. This minister temporarily holds the position of minister for health. I can think of ministers on both sides of the House who have a very different moral outlook from him, and I can think of ministers in the future on both sides of the House who will have a very different moral outlook from him. It really is not about Tony Abbott at all or Tony Abbott’s convictions. As I have already indicated, there is some level of moral sympathy on my behalf with his convictions in this area. And I understand his difficulty, having the moral convictions that he has, presiding in the portfolio that he does.
This is not an issue of confidence in Tony Abbott; this is an issue of sensible statement about where decision making ought to reside in relation to the approval of drugs, dangerous or otherwise.
We should leave this place without any bitterness in our hearts towards any person involved in this debate but with the very greatest pride that we are elected by the people to be here.
But Beasley is long gone from the Parliament. What of the current leader Julia Gillard? (pg. 58 emphasis added)
I am pro-choice—I strenuously object to the terminology ‘pro-abortion’; I have never met anybody who is pro-abortion and I am not. I understand that those who have a different view about abortion to mine—those who are not pro-choice—might be concerned if there was evidence that the availability of RU486 increased the abortion rate. There is no such evidence. If you look around the world, there is no such evidence that RU486 increases the abortion rate. Whilst I respect the moral compass of those who do not believe in choice, I do not understand a circumstance where people say ‘morality lies in the method’. That is what I think we are looking at today. I do not see why people should say there is a moral difference between surgical abortions or medical abortions. I do not see how that can be put.
If you read through all of the debate over those two days (February 15 and 16, 2006) you will see a lot of stated mutual respect for differing opinions. Most MPs were clear that the debate wasn’t about abortion per se but about process. So why now are the ALP claiming otherwise?
It is unfortunate that Plibersek seems to have had nothing to say to the Parliament over those two days the bill was debated.