Nov 15 2005

Australian Senator Lacks Clue Re: RU486

I am no expert on Australian politics, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like asshole Australian senator and fan of compulsory pregnancy Ron Boswell is feigning a deep and touching concern for the health of rural women when he warns that use of RU486 could result in their DEATH! That’s because rural women don’t typically have access to the emergency facilities that might be useful should they become one of the few who suffer a severe adverse effect from the drug.

How logical. Instead of making sure that all women, even those ignorant yokels stupid enough to live out in the sticks, have decent health care, by all means ban RU486, a drug that offers a shred of human dignity to women stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Wait, I know! Since everybody knows pregnancy poses way more risks than RU486, and since he cares so much about the healthy pinkness of rural Aussies, Senator Boswell’s responsibilities on behalf of all the quivering helpless Australian uteruses are clear: He should, as Margaret Cho says, take the bullets out of the gun, and sponsor a bill requiring mandatory castration of all rural men. Or at least ban Viagra.


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  1. Maggie B

    Unfortunately you are not wrong. Boswell is a fucking idiot. And he is typical of the current ruling government that wants to punish women who dare to have an abortion, whatever their reason, by forcing them to have an operation and run the risk of infection and complications instead of allowing them, under medical supervision, take a couple of pills.

  2. darkymac

    It looks as though Australia’s country medicos will have to get off their bums and get serious about individually applying to become registered prescribers. Their union, the AMA, will support them and has restated this today. This latest ‘study’ showing adverse RU486 effects was done by a tame retired obstetrician and his findings don’t go along with current stuff. As soon as prescribing applications from medicos go up, Abbott, the Federal Health Minister, produces another scary story. This bait-and-switch campaign has been running for a few years now.
    Abbott is orchestrating it. He is trying to earn his Opus Dei chair in Hevvven.

    This article from the national broadcaster by a medically trained journo has a bit more background.

    This time I don’t blame the Patriarchy, I blame the majority of Australians who voted this set of vampires into office.
    In Australia voting, or at least turning up at a polling place to have your name ticked off on the rolls, is compulsory.

  3. Anonymous

    And to think that I gave up the wonderful opportunity to leave my husband, abandon my PhD and become a Catholic housewife in Western Australia.

    At least I would have guarenteed health care, though. Crappy though it may be.

    If only they could come up with a pill to make certain aussie men less sexy.

  4. Dianne

    Viagra is a fairly dangerous drug. If combined with certain blood pressure or heart meds it can be fatal, especially if emergency care isn’t readily available. So, if Boswell is interested in the health of rural Australians, he should worry less about RU-486 and more about Viagra, which is more dangerous and is used by a sicker population (elderly men, as opposed to young or middle aged women.) The fact that he isn’t campaigning against Viagra suggests that 1. he’s very ignorant about medicine (possible, 2. he’s (gasp) got ulterior motives for wanting to restrict RU-486, or 3. all of the above.

  5. Liz

    Darkymac has it dead right. My country has the privilege of compulsory voting, and we use it for THIS?

    It’s worse even than you guessed, our Twisty. When you say “the healthy pinkness of rural Aussies”, think of our outlying Aboriginal communities, where housing, health and even water availability are so sub-standard, the life expectancy is more than 20 years lower than metropolitan Australians, and petrol sniffing is rife. Like all people in pitiful conditions, women and children bear the brunt of the violence it engenders.

    Good old Ron Boswell wants to restrict their access to abortion, but you can probably guess how little he’s done to improve infant mortality rates, or the prospects for kids in these areas.

    Other highlights of Ron’s political stance are opposing gay marriage and superannuation rights for gays in committed relationships, opposing anyone not demonstrably hetero from teaching in schools etc (because, you see, unlike hetero teachers, gay and transgender teachers introduce adult sex issues to children simply by existing), but interestingly he wants to acknowledge gay “spouses” for the purposes of imprisoning them under our proposed new draconian terror laws.

    But can I at least say the same country that voted for Ron Boswell, also voted for Bob Brown and his Greens party in huge numbers, and more each election, and the Greens stand for everything that makes Ron Boswell foam at the mouth.

  6. Caroline

    Ditto all other comments re: Australian politics. With only 20 million of us on a piece of land the same size as the mainland US, an abundance of natural resources, an almost totally decimated indigenous population one would think that we had the capacity to take the more generous approach to things..

    Living OS, and reading the main thrusts of the last electoral argument- how much of a tax cut will you give me? Forget Iraq, or anything even vaguely substantial. I recall feeing physically ill.

  7. Kate

    What can I say about this issue that hasn’t already been said? They’re bastards.

    Rural healthcare is a huge issue in this country, but obviously this is just a smokescreen for Abbott and his friends (including Boswell’s) anti-abortion views.

  8. trixie

    Boswell is a pain in the arse, there is no doubt about that, but let’s be clear that banning RU486 suits the not-at-all veiled agenda of the far more influential Health Minister, Tony Abbott to a T. Keeping RU486 out of reach of Australian women comes as no suprise from a minister who openly declares his hostility to abortion and has made advances to alter the privacy regulations governing provision of abortion. At the same time, our man Tony baulks at the provision of sex education to teens in rural areas because it might, you know, give them ideas.

    By the way, it is very rare for the Health Minister to give or withhold approval for a particular medication. Minister being a political, rather than a medical appointment and all. There is a statutory body (Therapeutic Goods Administration) which processes all applications for pharmaceuticals to enter the market. It is only in cases of controversy (ie political footballs which can be kicked into the nets of the ratbag religious neo-right) that the minister makes his presence felt. Fighting flaccidity with Viagra is OK though. Wielding the penis is the work of God.

  9. TimT

    A lot of Boswell’s fellow conservatives (eg, Sharman Stone) seem to be unhappy with this decision. The fights not over yet.

  10. Kas

    You’d think he’d be more concerned about the decrepit state of many, many rural maternity wards or the drastic shortage of obstetricians.

    And as a reclusive spinster aunt residing in rural Australia, I know a few individuals who could really do with castrating.

  11. Sane Aussie

    Yeah, as an Aussie I can say that the rural health here is in an appalling state. (When I mean rural, I don’t just mean the red centre, waay out bush where homesteads are 10s of kilometers away from each other – I mean rural as in ‘everywhere that’s not the state capital’, or has less than a 500 000 people).

    I grew up in a regional centre (22 000 people, serviced probably more from towns many hours away) and were were always in need of medical professionals. My Dad (dentist) was always fully booked months in advance. He saw people from towns 4 hours away. We were importing doctors from South Africa to work in the hospital (just to point out I fully support immigration of anyone, but the fact that we NEEDED TO IMPORT doctors into a first world country is a bit suss). On the other side of things, the government is making it harder and harder to get into medicine (and dentistry) with extra tests and requirements. And no, they’re not adding places to the quota – they’ve been cutting back on the funding for educating medical professionals for years. (Cheaper to import huh?!)

    So yeah, Australia has her own share of idiot politicians (we’ve made it a point of national pride to equate idiot with politician). It will only get better when they run out of medical professionals in the cities – and we’ll only have to wait another 7 years or so before that starts happening.

  12. Sane Aussie

    …just to clarify, ‘red centre’ here doesn’t mean conservative/red as it does in the US. It refers to the fact that the centre of Australia is mostly desert, with red soils and sands.

  13. Twisty

    Heres’ why lazy spinster aunts love the internet. Two days ago I wrote “I don’t know jack about Aussie politics” bu today I can write “I half-know something about Aussie politics” and I didn’t have to lift a finger. Thanks, Australians!

  14. Dianne

    Sane: Sounds remarkably like the US. We have to import doctors, never have enough of them in “rural” areas (aka any city less than 100,000), and, anti-universal health care claims to the contrary, long waits for care.

  15. liz

    I didn’t know the background to this issue before I opened my mouth yesterday. It goes something like this:

    A senior Liberal politician in Victoria (ie same conservative party as our Prime Minister), Sharman Stone, started the ball rolling. She said we need the drug as rural women needing abortions are forced to go to the city.

    Then a “medical” study was commissioned from the Health Department – the one that was taken up with glee by the loonie right wing pollies feining interest in rurual women. Doctors have roundly dismissed the study.

    Meanwhile, Sharman Stone is calling for a “conscience vote” on the issue (the ALP – main opposition party – has already said they would have a conscience vote) and has said she will “cross the floor” and vote with the opposition and progressive parties if there is no conscience vote.

    If there is a conscience vote, it’s likely that the ban on the drug would be lifted. There are loads of pro-choice pollies out there, even in the conservative parties, and there’s also a well known phenomenon of the wives of the male conservative pollies being very influential, even though they don’t speak out publicly, and they play an important role in keeping abortion safe and legal.

    We’ll send more information by kangaroo-post when it occurs (what’s that, skippy? You’ve been on the internet?)

  16. Kate

    Good post on this here, BTW:


    Pretty much sums it all up. (And you Americans thought you had the monopoly on anti-abortion Christian fundies, didn’t you?)

  17. Framingham8


    News from Libya…Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is 67, is the first woman to be elected to lead an African country. Her oponent, Mr. Weah immediately said the vote had been rigged, although international observers said it had not been. In the half-century since the Europeans left Africa, its men have proved remarkably adept at self-delusion.

    No one can be sure what kind of president Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated banker who was imprisoned by one of the many men who ran Liberia into the ground over the last few decades, will be. There are plenty of African women who have brought us shame, like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. But after 25 years of war, genocide and anarchy, it’s a good bet that Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf will smoke the men who preceded her in running the country. It’s not going to be that hard to do; she is following Charles Taylor and Samuel Doe, both butchers of the first degree.

    Ever since the voting results started coming in a few days ago, showing what the Liberian women had done, I’ve been unable to get one image from Bukavu out of my mind. It is of an old woman, in her 30’s. It was almost twilight when I saw her, walking up the hill out of the city as I drove in.

    She carried so many logs that her chest almost seemed to touch the ground, so stooped was her back. Still, she trudged on, up the hill toward her home. Her husband was walking just in front of her. He carried nothing. Nothing in his hand, nothing on his shoulder, nothing on his back. He kept looking back at her, telling her to hurry up.

    I want to go back to Bukavu to find that woman, and to tell her what just happened in Liberia. I want to tell her this: Your time will come, too.

    See NYTIMES ARTICLE 11/17/05 4.
    Editorial Observer: “Waiting for Their Moment in the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman”

  18. darkymac

    LIZ said this:Meanwhile, Sharman Stone is calling for a “conscience vote” on the issue (the ALP – main opposition party – has already said they would have a conscience vote) and has said she will “cross the floor” and vote with the opposition and progressive parties if there is no conscience vote.


    We’ll send more information by kangaroo-post when it occurs (what’s that, skippy? You’ve been on the internet?)

    Looks like the post got delayed. So I’ll just do a consciousness-raising update in the absence of LIZ. Gosh I hope the roo we bagged last night wasn’t your postman. It was a buck and I forgot to look for the satchel.

    This article flags that RU486 will be getting registered very soon.
    The only caveat I put on all of that is if the Prime Miniature reads in the entrails that he’s winning the Industrial Relations opinion war – which he’s most definitely a bit wobbly about after the massive, sorry Prime Miniature, quite large, public demonstrations against his proposed slavery bills – he might not make Tony Abbott step up to the scaffold so soon.
    Tony’s on shaky ground ever since he stuffed up his public relations stunt about having a long-lost bastard son. The bastard son, having been most precipitately outed by the Abbott PR machine as a demo of why abortion is not a Good Thing, turned out to have been the issue of a sneaky fuck with a ring-in by Abbott’s girlfriend at the time. Snigger. So Tony came out of it a lame-duck for the Howard machine.

    Australian women’s Patriarchal fight since the 70s has been always more with pay and conditions than with abortion and pregnancy. This reflects, in my humble opinion only of course, a basic difference between the much more god-cringing US setup and here. My jaw has hit the floor a few times lately at the much more powerful interference in US women’s relationships with their medicos that I’ve read about. A prime example is that of those US pharmacists being able to get away with refusing to dispense a prescribed emergency birth control dose of hormones.
    They’d get short shrift for that even around this slow old country town.

    Watching the creep of the Creationist “debate” into Australian mainstream media however, I don’t think Australian women can afford to take their eyes off the fundamentalist patriarchal bastards for one second.

  19. Jennifer

    You’ve already got all the facts from your regular Aussie readers, but I had to link to this article that shows the complete hypocrisy of the “fears” for rural women:


    It gives the heartbreaking example of a woman who had had severe pre-eclampsia with three previous pregnancies. Another pregnancy was a huge medical risk to her, and the baby. She couldn’t arrange an abortion without having to shell out $700 to get to the nearest big town, which she couldn’t afford.

    So at 26 weeks, she was flown, at government expense, to that big town, suffering (again) severe pre-eclampsia. The baby died after an emergency caesarean.

  20. Helen

    Tones is also getting a bill passed to make pre-abortion counselling compulsory in the rare cases that one will be allowed. The government has tendered for NGOs to apply for the job of supplying counsellors. Three have been successful: all of them anti-abortion organisations.

  1. Australian Women Tell Godbag Where To Shove It at I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] For those who missed it [Aussie Senator Lacks Clue], this victory was largely the result of a cross-party squad of women senators who did their fucking job. One salivates over the idea that women politicians can actually give a fuck about women. Here in the States we’ve got 2, maybe 3 women in high office, and I believe their spines have all been irreversibly vaporized, probably from having worn high heels all their lives. // Used for showing and hiding user information in the comment form function ShowUtils() { document.getElementById(“authorinfo”).style.display = “”; document.getElementById(“showinfo”).style.display = “none”; document.getElementById(“hideinfo”).style.display = “”; } function HideUtils() { document.getElementById(“authorinfo”).style.display = “none”; document.getElementById(“showinfo”).style.display = “”; document.getElementById(“hideinfo”).style.display = “none”; } […]

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