Not a hit with the chicks!

You may remember my local MP more for his howlers than his contributions.

On Saturday I wrote: 

Dear Mr.Cadman,

We live in Dural and you are our MP.

We believe in a woman’s reproductive rights and therefore respectfully ask you to vote in favour of the bill asking for the change in how RU486 is handled.
The TGA is the appropriate body to decide on the drug’s safety and efficacy.

A woman and her doctor are the appropriate people to decide if, when and how an abortion happens.

Abortion happens; make it safe.


Regards etc.
Suki Lombard and family.

On Monday he wrote:

Dear Lombard family,

Currently RU486 is not available in Australia to bring about termination of pregnancy. A legislative provision allows the Minister for Health to exercise his discretion to declare certain medicines and drugs as being unavailable for use in Australia.  Some time ago a previous Minister made that declaration for RU486.

In the Senate, Democrat Senator Lyn Allison has successfully moved a Private Member’s Bill amending the current legislation to remove the ministerial discretion and make the sole arbiter of drug availability the Therapeutic Goods Authority.  She does not mention RU486 in her amendment. 

Because RU486 is the only drug which has been declared unavailable, the removal of discretion will only apply to RU486. 

I am opposed to the removal of ministerial discretion and to making RU486 a drug available for the termination of pregnancy.  All medical evidence that I have seen is so ambivalent about its safety.  There are very strong limitations for the use of RU486 in the United States which have been imposed by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Please find enclosed an article which is about to be published.  I think it summarises the main points on the current debate about the drug RU 486.  The points which are made in the article refer to the dangers of the drug, ministerial responsibility and life issues.


Yours sincerely

Alan Cadman

and attached this:  

RU 486

Back in 1996 when the Federal Parliament established the procedure for approving the use of RU486 then Labour [sic] senator Belinda Neal said:

‘These issues need to be addressed by the executive of this government and addressed with absolute and direct accountability.’

Then Greens Senator Christabel Chamarette said:

‘We deserve to have parliamentary scrutiny of decisions. We deserve to have a voice on issues and not simply leave them to boards of experts.’

Nothing has changed. Last month a regulatory affairs associate with a pharmaceutical company commented:

‘(I)n my professional experience, RU486 is not like any other drug. It is not designed to prevent, treat or diagnose an illness, defect or injury. It is not therapeutic. It is designed to cause an abortion that will end a developing human life. RU486 has serious ethical and social concerns that go far beyond scientific analysis.’

The TGA itself admits it is not qualified to make such decisions. Rather these are the sorts of decisions we pay our politicians to make. We expect our elected representatives to make policy judgments about social and ethical issues, in the light of the concerns, interests and values of the community to whom they are accountable.

While the community holds diverse views on the morality of abortion, there is clear evidence that the majority of Australians think that abortion should be an option only of last resort and that the number of abortions is too high. Research by the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute demonstrates that the community wants governments to find ways of reducing the number of abortions. Clearly the Australian people do not think abortion is ‘just another medical procedure’.

If the Senate changes the current system and passes decisions about RU486 to the TGA it will be flying in the face of community attitudes.  The Senate would send the message that RU486 is just another drug and abortion is just another medical procedure. It would signal the failure of political will to face up to the difficult policy task of finding women alternatives and supports so that they can freely give birth to their children.

There are other reasons why it would be inappropriate to place this responsibility on the TGA.

RU486 can have serious side affects. In some cases in the USA it has been the cause of death. In addition, a recently published study undertaken by researchers at the Christchurch School of Medical and Health Sciences in New Zealand indicates there are long-term psychological consequences of having an abortion. There is a lack of research about the specific psychological impacts of chemical abortion. We do not know whether RU486 would cause even greater trauma than surgical abortion. . For these reasons it would be essential that, if RU486 were approved, that the effects of this drug both in the short term and the long term were monitored.

The Health Minister could ensure the design of and compliance with such a process by making it a condition of approval.

The TGA cannot undertake such monitoring. It cannot even require medical practitioners and pharmacists to report adverse effects of using RU486.  Nor could the TGA guarantee scrutiny over the administration and the use of contentious drugs. 

The experience of the morning after pill demonstrates this. Its manufacturer indicated it did not want approval for the pill to be handed out over the counter, saying,

‘It is only to be used as an emergency contraceptive and one of the reasons it is available on prescription only is so doctors can regulate how patients use it.’

Yet 12 months later a TGA committee decided the pill could be dispensed over the counter, without medical advice or prescription. Within six months of the pill was being sold over the counter. 

Sales had doubled and a Sydney paper carried a story of only two out of ten pharmacists following the guidelines issued by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia concerning the sale of the pill.

Had there been such an about face by a Minister there would have been much greater public scrutiny and a call for the Minister to offer detailed explanations. Instead the TGA was not accountable at all for its decision.

As ministers are more accountable than public institutions it is illogical for the Federal Parliament to imply ministers could not be trusted to fulfil their obligation to the community by exercising their discretion responsibly, and especially if it were to imply that ministers with particular beliefs and values could not be trusted to do so.

RU486 is a unique drug and its distribution raises complex social, ethical and policy issues which must addressed by our elected representatives and not left to the unelected members of the TGA.

The Federal government should be urged reject the proposed change to the current system.


I wrote:

Dear Mr Cadman,

Your position is profoundly disappointing.

Can I remind you that abortion is in fact legal (under certain circumstances) in this state?

This issue is about who can approve a drug in Australia; not "other life issues."

Your lack of acknowledgement of any women’s rights (pregnant or otherwise) in your entire argument is an indication that you do not respect the fundamental human rights- which include reproductive rights- of  51% of the Australian population.

Regards etc.
Suki Lombard and family.

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15 Responses to “Not a hit with the chicks!”

  1. weezil Says:

    Suki, Cadman not only isn’t a uterus owner/operator but likely hasn’t even touched a vagina in 20 years, yet he’s quite content to make the rules for them. What bollocks.

  2. Suki Says:

    Thing is weezil, he can afford to not concern himself with the radical feminist element in his electorate as his winning margin is so consistently big that he can do nothing and be reelected.

  3. Pottsy Says:

    Hi suki, how very disappointing to receive such an answer. Very much like hearing a door slam shut.
    I am worried that attitudes such as Mr Cadman’s will prevail on Thursday. I watched ABC’s Compass on Sunday night, and hoped that may enlighten many men (and women) and then I hear Danna Vale shoot her mouth off “We’re aborting ourselves out of existence!”
    What’s worse she links that with fear of Muslims (OMG THEY”RE BREEDING!?!)

  4. Suki Says:

    I could have coped better if in fact he had attached a document that at least gave me references and a source. As it is it reads like a lazy undergraduate’s work.

    I linked him to all 55 of my pro-choice posts. Hours of research and sourcing.

    The only good thing is, that for all his years in parliament being a loyal footsoldier, he holds no portfolio.

    If his response is any indication of his work, then I am not surprised.

    Thanks Pottsy, perhaps men (and women) who watched ABC’s Compass may find compassion.

    As for Danna “where has my fax gone” Vale, we all have to say ‘who’ and pfft.

  5. weezil Says:

    Saith Suki: …he can do nothing and be reelected.

    That’s pretty much what Cadman has always done, Suki. He’s nothing but a self-serving political wonk. His gig is to get re-elected- not serve his constituency.

  6. Helen Says:

    Here’s my letter to Danna Vale which I just banged out: Haven’t enveloped and stamped it yet.

    The Hon Danna Vale MP
    Postal Address:
    PO Box 1014
    Sutherland NSW 1499


    Dear Ms Vale

    I am not writing about your comment about Australia becoming a Muslim nation because of the “excessive” number of abortions carried out in Australia. I’m sure plenty of people have done that already.

    I am writing to call you on your error concerning the number of abortions carried out.

    It concerns me that you and many other people in the parliament are still using the figure of 100,000 abortions a year. To quote you: “we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence by 100,000 abortions every year …” (SMH, 14/02/2006.)

    100,000, a rounded-up figure, is not the number of elective abortions per year. It is the number of times the medical procedure is used which is sometimes used for elective abortions, which is not the same thing. It is also used for: “…tens of thousands of dilation and curettage (“D and C”) procedures carried out after women “spontaneously abort” – that is, miscarry. Obstetricians say the real abortion figure could be as low as 25,000 because the same Medicare item number is used for all ‘abortions and medical procedures undertaken as a result of miscarriage or foetal death”.” (Marie Stopes Centre)

    I know that as an honourable member you will take note of this fact and no longer continue to use the misleading, although dramatic, figure of 100,000. If you do continue to do so I will know you are intentionally misleading your electorate and the public.

    Helen etc etc

  7. Kate Says:

    Good letter Helen. Have you sent that to the relevant newspapers as well?

  8. weezil Says:

    Helen, good one. The ‘too many abortions’ canard is also an extension of the xenophobia card. ‘Populate or perish’ is the essential admonishment. As if women are obligated to push out puppies for God, Queen and Country…

    There’s no logical possibility of ‘too many abortions.’ As if women design to become pregnant for the purpose of going out to have an abortion. There are no more nor no fewer abortions performed in Australia than are required.

    The worst part of it is the politicians’ misguided notion that it is young women using abortion as their primary birth control who are forcing up the figures. In fact, a more accurate demographic of the women seeking terminations are those in their mid 30s through 40s who already have had children and have had an untimely failure of birth control. Further to that, if women choose to use abortion as their primary birth control, if it is not a hazard to their health, there’s no cause for them not to do so.

    Still, the RU486 issue is not about abortion in Australia- it’s about the appropriate process for approval of new medications. Medical experts or some appointed politician? No brainer!

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  10. Anna Winter Says:

    That article was written entirely from the talking points they passed around before the vote in the Senate. I don’t think there were many who voted no who didn’t quote “ALP Senator Belinda Neal and Greens Senator Christabel Chamarette”. They all did.

    Here’s a link to the comments on the inquiry made by the pro-choice senators addressing each of the stupid arguments they’ve given.

  11. Suki Says:

    Good on you for calling Ms. Vale to account for her disingenuous use of the 100,000 abortions per year number.
    As for her other comment – we can all rest easier knowing that Vanstone called a press conference about the issue *shudder*

    I hope this is not just a smokescreen for a resurgence of the push to give abortion a separate medicare number.

  12. Suki Says:

    Thanks Anna.
    I caught Dr. Mal Washer’s comments today on ABC NewsRadio. He was short, sharp, pro-choice and managed to weave in a woman’s reproductive rights.
    I was so happy I even gave way to a using-my-car-as-a-weapon-aggressive-overtaking-on-the-left-merger-pusher-inner…
    – That happy 🙂

  13. Rooster Says:

    Suki, I moved to your electorate (Mitchell) about 4 years ago… he barely rates a mention in the local papers (except for the odd school/envelope opening). It seems like they bring him out of his cryogenic state whenever an election is called.

  14. Suki Says:

    The area is conservative, the member is conservative- Hillsong thrives in it. *sigh*

    When I met the Greens candidate Sheryl Jarecki, she was the first person, over 25 that I had ever seen at Castle towers, who had brighly dyed hair – purple, pink and magenta.

  15. Emma Says:

    I think The Chaser once started a rumour round Parliament House that Alan Cadman was going to challenge John Howard for the leadership, causing much amusement even to Liberal Ministers and forcing Cadman (who took a long time to cop onto the joke) to make a statement denying that he wanted the leadership.

    I live in Wentworth (don’t ask) and got a surprisingly swift and positive response from my MP which you can see here

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