January 21st 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: B.A. Santamaria: the making of a political warrior

EDITORIAL: Unbalanced economy: the problems ahead

CANBERRA OBSERVED: The Coalition - a rocky road ahead for 2006

NATIONAL SECURITY: How Australia should fight terrorism

POLITICAL ISSUES: Muddled thinking in green politics and ecology

MEDICAL SCIENCE: D-I-Y abortion drug RU-486 endangers women's lives

CULTURE AND CIVILISATION: Western elites lack moral courage

The struggle against forgetting (letter)

Living standards and the labour market (letter)

A slogan for RU-486? (letter)

CINEMA: Paradise Now - Portrait of deranged killer as hero

CINEMA: C.S. Lewis tale brilliantly translated to big screen

BOOKS: JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH: His Life, His Politics, His Economics, by Richard Parker

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slogan for RU-486? (letter)

by Dr David van Gend

News Weekly, January 21, 2006

Dr Christine Tippett - a senior vice-president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists - says that Viagra is as dangerous as RU-486 but "because it is not related to the procurement of an abortion, it's seen very differently". (The Age, December 17, 2005).

Exactly. RU-486 deserves to be seen differently because, unlike Viagra and any other drug, it is intended to cause death. The slogan for Viagra is "Love Life". No prizes for devising a corresponding slogan for RU-486.

I spoke to the Senate enquiry on Thursday, December 15, directly after Dr Tippett. With due respect to her, the parliamentary debate is not about the technical safety of RU-486 - that is a matter for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to assess, as with any other drug.

Parliament must decide whether a drug surrounded by such complex moral questions of public concern can be adequately assessed under the TGA's simplistic categories of "safety and efficacy". Or does it need extra levels of scrutiny by those elected to deal with such complex questions as the justifiable taking of innocent life?

Let the Government retain policy responsibility for RU-486, and authorise it for valid medical reasons - including abortion, should it be medically essential - but never as a mere human pesticide designed to serve abortion for non-medical reasons.

Dr David van Gend,
Toowoomba, Qld.

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