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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2074

Senator HARRADINE —My question is directed to the Minister for Family Services. On 25 May 1994, the minister undertook to ensure that Estimates Committee C received as much information as possible about trials of the abortion drug RU486. Is the minister aware that many of the questions asked on that occasion and subsequently have not been answered and, in particular, those concerning information about clinical trial notification No. 94-138 which involves RU486 and prostaglandin for the termination of pregnancy? What are the women subjects of the trial being told about the nature of the drug and its serious ill effects on themselves and their current and, indeed, future children? How are these trial subjects being recruited? What is the nature of the informed consent? We would like the consent form. Was any ethics committee shopping undertaken prior to the matter being considered and approved by the Family Planning Association of Victoria Ethics Committee?

Senator CROWLEY —As Senator Harradine has said, these issues were extensively canvassed at least in an opening set of questions in the estimates on 25 May. Indeed, some of the answers to those questions and some of that information, I am advised, were provided to Senator Harradine for the second round of estimates. But, as I also understand, Senator Harradine is saying that he has not been given fully satisfactory answers to a number of the questions he asked. I do not have the detail of any of those questions. I am advised that material that he is looking for, particularly through the questions on notice at estimates, is in the process of being sought so that he can be assisted in this matter. As soon as that information comes to me, I will see that it is passed directly to him.

Senator HARRADINE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Could that material be sent to the committee prior to the end of this session, as it is a matter of public importance?

Senator CROWLEY —I will certainly see whether that material is available and that is able to be done.