From Australian Broadcasting Comission newsmailAbortion aid ban lifted despite Rudd’s [Prime Minister] opposition*
The Federal Government has overturned rules that ban overseas aid funding being used for abortions.
In 1996 the Howard government banned Australia’s overseas development funding from being used in health programs involving terminations.
US President Barack Obama overturned a similar ban when he took office earlier this year and the Federal Government has been under pressure to follow suit.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has been reviewing the rules and has decided to overturn the ban.
Mr Smith says the change will mean women in developing countries will have the same options as those in Australia, if local laws allow terminations.
But he says Australian aid funding will still focus on avoiding abortions through family planning.
After Mr Smith made the announcement in a Labor Party meeting this morning Prime Minister Kevin Rudd thanked him for the way the debate had been handled and said a clear majority of Caucus supported the change.
But Mr Rudd said he was personally not in support of the change.
Queensland Senator John Hogg also said he represented a group of MPs who disagreed with the change.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the move was long overdue.
“Australia, until this morning, was the last country who had these ridiculous, archaic, inhumane restrictions placed on our aid funding and support,” she said.
“What we now see is Australia has stepped up in line with Barack Obama, who in his very first week as President moved to ensure that these restrictions would be lifted.”:mad: