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Chance to affirm reproductive rights denied.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA WEDNESDAY 5 OCTOBER 2005

SENATOR LYN ALLISON AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS LEADER

CHANCE TO AFFIRM REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS DENIED Australian Democrats Leader, Senator Lyn Allison said the refusal to allow the Senate a vote on her motion affirming women's reproductive health demonstrates the battle that women face in protecting these rights.

Senator Allison said the motion supports Australia's longstanding commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Article 12, referring to the need to ensure 'access to health care services, including those related to family planning'.

Senator Allison said the motion also calls for basic sexual reproductive health information, advice to women on pregnancy options and access to emergency contraception.

“If parliamentarians gag debate on these basic reproductive rights, then Australian women should be worried about more serious erosions of women’s health.”

There was ample time to consider the motion, given Senator Allison gave notice on May 10, before deferring it to: June 14; June 15; June 20; August 9; and finally, October 4.

“If anyone had a problem with the content of the motion, they could have suggested changes, rather than stopping it going to the vote.”

"Conservative, mostly male politicians have been outspoken about their intentions to diminish women’s reproductive rights. Meanwhile women’s access to reproductive health is being chipped away. There have been threats to IVF, a new Bill that would allow the Health Minister to remove Medicare funding for abortion, a failure to list new low dose contraceptives on the PBS, the failure to require pharmacies to stock emergency contraception and the ongoing ban on Mifepristone - a safe alternative to surgical abortion.”

“This erosion will continue to occur unless we speak out on these issues,” Senator Allison said. “This situation has become urgent. Those who support reproductive choices can no longer remain silent and leave speaking out on these issues to extreme conservatives.”

"Women need to be aware that the Parliament may not be representative of the views of the vast majority of Australians who support a woman’s freedom to make reproductive health choices."

Media contact: Katrina McGrath - 0408 056 167