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Abbott: children 'non-essential'



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MEDIA RELEASE JULIA GILLARD M.P.

Shadow Minister for Health

ABBOTT: CHILDREN ‘NON-ESSENTIAL’

Minister Abbott’s callous comments this morning about IVF being ‘elective and non-essential’ show he just does not understand IVF and the process women and their partners endure in an effort to realise their dream of having a child. He should apologise for these remarks which have offended many Australians and particularly those undergoing IVF treatment.

In the same interview, Minister Abbott starkly contradicted Treasurer Costello on the purpose and reasoning behind the cuts to Medicare support for IVF.

While the Treasurer claimed on the Insiders program that ‘this is not a financial issue’ and that ‘there is a lot of debate about the medical outcomes’, Minister Abbott on the other hand explains that ‘there has to be some limit…on what the Government is prepared to spend on things which are non-essential’.

As well as being at odds with Australian values and at odds with the Treasurer about why changes are being made, Minister Abbott also put himself at odds with IVF specialists. Last night on the 7.30 Report, Professor Chapman, an IVF specialist said the Howard Government’s proposed cutbacks may well lead to more multiple births as more embryos are implanted in a desperate attempt to conceive. Minister Abbott denied this would occur. Australians will know who to believe and it won’t be the Minister who lied about the Medicare Safety net.

Minister Abbott claims that only 10 per cent of women currently undergo more than three cycles of IVF treatment in one calendar year. If this is correct, then the question remains as to why there is a need to make the changes at all?

The fact remains that this is simply another cut both to Medicare and the Medicare Safety net under Minister Abbott’s watch. Not only has he broken his ‘rock solid, iron-clad’ promise on cuts to the Medicare Safety net by increasing the threshold, he has also made cuts to the scheme by restricting IVF procedures which would be covered by his safety net.

Today, under pressure on the IVF issue, Minister Abbott turned to criticising Labor. Australians expect better of their Health Minister than taking his pay cheque for doing nothing except criticising the Opposition. They expect Minister Abbott to run the health system in their interests and to keep his word. He is doing neither.

27 APRIL 2005

CONTACT: Kimberley Gardiner 0401 533 002