The vote, the Abbott, the pharmaceutical company, and the drugs

June 1st, 2006

It seems that Tony Abbott does not believe in democracy. If we are to believe the allegations made by a Pharmaceutical industry leader aired on the ABC’s Lateline last night that Health Minister Tony Abbott has exerted some pressure in his portfolio area for companies to be compliant to his beliefs about RU486.

Several pharmaceutical companies claimed that part of the reason that RU486 hadn’t been taken up was because they feared a political backlash and the Minister’s wrath.

Full response from Health Minister Tony Abbott:

“My views about abortion and RU 486 are well known. I think that up to 100,000 abortions a year is far too many and that women who believe they have no alternative to abortion already have access to the procedure. I am on the parliamentary record as doubting whether any reputable pharmaceutical company would seek marketing approval for this drug.
I have had no discussions with any pharmaceutical company representative about RU 486. I am not aware that any pharmaceutical company plans to seek marketing approval for RU 486.
My staff deny “warning off” any pharmaceutical company thinking of seeking marketing approval for RU 486.
In any event, marketing approval for drugs is in the hands of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, a reputable expert body which makes decisions at arm’s length from ministers.
In my judgment, it’s highly unprofessional of Lateline to publicise an allegation which no one is prepared to make on-the-record about an alleged threat which could not actually be carried out under Australia’s drug approval system.”

This is what Senator Lyn Allison had to say regarding the allegations:

“I think it’s a deeply shocking revelation that the pharmaceutical companies are making. It’s not surprising to some of us who know that Minister Abbott’s objection to abortion is so strong that I think he would take whatever steps were required.”

I would like to see this investigated so that we can potentially charge Abbott with misuse of ministerial power and thereby force him to accept the outcome of the concscience vote, and a woman’s right to choose.


Image from here