Abortion and Overseas Aid
The Rudd government investigated whether to overturn the current ban on overseas aid funding that provides abortion advice or abortions in overseas nations in early 2009.
Government lifts ban - March 2009
11 March 2009 - Rudd government allows overseas aid for abortion
A long-standing principle of the Australian government was to ban the use of overseas aid money for abortion or abortion-related advice. The policy was adopted by the Howard government, at a time when Senator Brian Harradine had the balance of power in the Senate. The regulation was written into the AusAID Family Planning Guidelines
The Rudd government has now decided to overturn the ban and allow overseas aid money to be used for abortions. The decision was officially made by the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. Aid groups are said to be supporting the move - but the groups in this article are ABORTION providers in Australia and overseas. Labor MP Bob McMullen says it will help lower maternal death rates and help with the Millennium Goals.
We say they should not be confused - we should be helping advance maternal health and provide maternal health services to stop obstetric fistulas etc. The Australian government has given at least $2 million to the Hospital by the River run by Dr Catherine Hamlin in Ethiopia which deals with fistulas. I'm in the middle of reading the second book about their amazing work - Catherine's Gift
However funding abortions is another matter entirely.
We opposed the overturning of this ban and are disappointed, but not surprised that the Rudd government has taken this step. The matter was presented to the Labor Party room - Kevin Rudd told the media he did not personally support the overturning of the ban but that his party had decided to take this step. He also said he didn't have enough votes in the party to maintain the policy.
Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell and Liberal MP Tony Abbott declared that Mr Rudd had betrayed Christain voters, since he had promoted his Christian values to Christians prior to the election. However Labor's response to a question, prior to the election, about overseas aid being used for abortions was very vague - we're not surprised to see the policy change!
Wrath over Rudd aid for abortion
The Age, March 11, 2009.
Govt ends foreign aid ban on abortions
When it became evident that the Rudd government was investigating the lifting of the ban on using overseas aid to fund abortions, we asked readers to contact Mr Smith and Mr Rudd....
The material posted for that campaign follows.
We need your help - in writing to Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to ask them NOT to remove the ban.
Their contact details are in the ACTION section below.
The following sections explain the background of the ban and the proposal. If you have limited time, you could go straight to the ACTION section!
Barack Obama overturns ban on funding of overseas abortions
One of the first things that Barack Obama did as the new US President was to sign an Executive Order to authorise the removal of the ban on government funding to any organisations that provide abortions in overseas countries.
The ban was first implemented by Ronald Reagan in 1984. Bill Clinton lifted the ban when he became President, but it was reinstated by George W Bush. Now it has been overturned by Barack Obama. Click here for news report.
Mr Obama has repeatedly voted in favour of abortion in the Senate and has said he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would overturn state restrictions on abortion, so it wasn't a surprise to see him lift the ban.
Pressure on Rudd Government to remove ban on overseas aid for abortions
That has put Kevin Rudd's government under increased pressure to remove the ban on providing government funds to aid organisations for use in providing abortion advice or abortions. The ban was introduced by the Howard government, mostly through the influence of former Tasmanian senator Brian Harradine.
The ban is outlined in the AusAID Family Planning Guidelines, which say "Australian Government contributions will not be used to fund abortion training or services, or research, trials or activities which directly involve abortion drugs".
Click here for the Guidelines.
The ban has been under review for the past year. The Age reports that "A caucus subcommittee reported around August last year but the Government did not make public what it said."
The ban can be lifted 'administratively' by Stephen Smith, the government Minister for Foreign Affairs. NO legislation is required to lift the ban.
Michelle Grattan notes that the government could have been cautious about this because of not wanting to upset Family First Senator Steve Fielding, who supports the ban. Click here for Michelle Grattan's report in The Age.
Pro-abortion activists, led by the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance, have been campaigning for the lifting of the ban.
The Parliamentary Group on Population and Development is also lobbying for the ban to be overturned. The Chair of the group is Claire Moore, who is also the national co-convenor of Emily's List, the group of Labor women who support abortion.
The Rudd government is already working with the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance and Planned Parenthood, giving them overseas aid funds to provide maternal health services. Unfortunately, as we reported last year, this means they could use those funds for maternal health and use their OTHER funds for providing abortions!
See the launch of the SPRINT program - media release.
The ban should stay
We believe that the ban should stay - we should use our scarce resources on saving lives and providing health assistance for all people in developing countries, including to pregnant women - not on providing abortion services. Unfortunately some churches have supported removing the ban - last year the
Following media publicity this week, Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby had a very good article in The Age, titled Life Means Something. He called for the ban to stay and that aid money be used to provide health resources.
Click here to read it.
Please write a short letter to Stephen Smith.
Please also write to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Contact him via his website - click here.
Then, if you have time, please write a short note to your federal MPs and your 12 State Senators - click here for their details.