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ALRANZ: Australian Senate RU486 Ban Opposed

"ALRANZ regrets that the Australian Democrats were unsuccessful in their latest attempt to relax Australia's onerous and unjustified regulation of RU486-mifepristone." Craig Young, Research Officer for the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand said today.

"Once again, the Australian Senate has refused to listen to sound medical evidence about the safety of mifepristone and misoprostol, from a decade of clinical tests, use in Britain, Sweden and France and a recent thorough assessment from the US Food and Drug Administration." Mr.Young noted.

"This situation demonstrates what happens when tiny, unrepresentative and opportunist elements are allowed to hold the balance of power whether or not they have submitted themselves to a constituency by-election or general election. It is fortunate that none of the current political parties in this parliamentary term have such contempt for the electoral process and that we have an electoral system that safeguards against the Australian Senate situation." concluded Mr.Young.

The Australian Senate is elected through a geographically-based Single Transferable Vote electoral system, which has meant that Senator Brian Harradine, a right-wing Catholic anti-abortionist, has held the balance of power during several previous Senate terms. Harradine used his influence to ban further clinical trials for mifepristone within Australia, without any clinical evidence that supported his case.

Contact: Craig Young Research Officer ALRANZ 2/353 College St Palmerston North (06) 3569099 ext 7750

Dr Margaret Sparrow National President ALRANZ Box 28008 Wellington (04) 4759886.

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