Australia reviews ban on abortion aid
Australian governement has been big source for donation for developing countries. They had stopped giving aid for abortion services and training but now a new move has rekindled hope for many of the developing countries.
Australia's government is considering lifting a 12-year-old ban on foreign aid earmarked for abortion services and training in developing countries, an official said Wednesday.
The proposed move rekindled a divisive debate over abortion, which is legal and easily accessible throughout Australia.
The United States and Australia are the only countries that provide development aid on the condition that none of the money be used for abortion services, Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance Bob McMullan told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has asked a government committee to report on whether the ban should be lifted, McMullan said. Smith does not need Parliament's permission to make the change.
But senior opposition Senator Ron Boswell warned Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would face a political backlash from Christian groups if his government changes the policy.
Rudd, a devout Anglican, campaigned for Christians to support his center-left Labor Party ahead of his crushing election victory in November last year.
"All bets will be off with the churches as far as Mr. Rudd is concerned," Boswell told ABC. "He cuddled up to the churches for the last election. If he does this to them, then they'll turn upon him."
McMullan, who has declined to publicly state an opinion on the ban, said he expects the review would generate robust debate.
"There are people who share Sen. Boswell's reasonably extreme view of this, but there ... are a large bulk of people who don't feel so passionately. And there are some people who passionately feel the other way," McMullan said.
Conservative former Prime Minister John Howard introduced the ban on funding for foreign abortion services in 1996.
Julie Munday, Asia-Pacific regional chief executive for the British-based reproductive health charity Marie Stopes International, pointed out that Australian women have access to state-subsidized abortions.
"It's quite an arrogant stance to assume that what's good for Australians isn't necessarily good for women overseas," Munday told ABC.