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Australian Government Blocks Senate Motion to Fund Abortion Abroad

Kathleen Gilbert,

CANBERRA, Australia, February 5, 2009 ( – The Australian government immediately blocked a motion introduced in the Senate yesterday to lift the country’s ban on providing foreign aid to abortion providers.

The Senate proposal followed upon U.S. President Obama’s executive order abolishing the Mexico City Poilicy, permitting U.S. taxpayer funds to be given to organizations that provide or promote abortions and abortion lobbying abroad. The U.S. policy change left Australia as the only first-world country refusing to fund international abortion-promoting organizations.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young of the Australian Green Party proposed the motion Wednesday, calling the ban "draconian" and "archaic," and urging the Government and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to follow Obama’s lead lest Australia "look outdated."

"These women are real women and by removing these guidelines they can be given real choices," said Hanson-Young.

The proposition was not met without strong resistance from fellow senators. Queensland Nationals senator Ron Boswell argued that removing the ban would siphon funds away from services that save lives, such as clean water, food and medicine.

"Which services would we have to cut in order to provide abortion services?" he asked. "Medicine, a village well, food, birthing kits?"

Boswell also warned the Rudd Government not to betray the religious constituency that backed them by allowing the abortion funding.