"Department officials confirmed in Estimates today that Australia has not been approached by overseas countries to fund abortion related activities," said The Nationals' Senator Ron Boswell today. "I asked whether overseas countries had come to us and asked us for help in funding abortion services. The Department responded that they were not aware of any particular requests to fund abortion related activities."
"Why is the Rudd government even considering funding abortion in its overseas aid programs when Australia has never done so in the past and has not been approached by other countries to do so?" "The presiding Minister at the Estimates hearing, Senator Stephens, and Department officials confirmed a plan to fund overseas abortions was being considered by the Rudd government. The Department also confirmed that Australia has never in the past funded abortions in its overseas aid program." "Democrat Senator Lyn Allison also confirmed her presence at a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, at 8.30 am on Wednesday 14th May 2008 as part of a delegation of the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development members led by the Chair, Senator Moore to discuss the current family planning guidelines." "The government is now considering their recommendation to abolish the Guidelines so that abortion services can be carried out under AUSAID funding." Senator Boswell said that no legislation would be required to implement this historic policy change which could take funds away from programs for maternal and child welfare, food and clean water. "The government has not consulted with non-government organisations like the Catholic aid arm Caritas on how they would be affected by aid funds being transferred to abortion services." "Any decision to use Australia's overseas aid programs to further the ideological aims of a pro-abortion lobby group at home would be fiercely opposed by many Australians including the churches and their sister aid organisations who are the ones delivering the international aid in most instances." Senator Boswell said that the government must answer which programs would be cut if abortions were funded by AUSAID. "Would there be cuts to existing maternal and child welfare services, clean water and food services? Would this disrupt the work of church aid groups with their long and generous record of helping the poorest of the poor?" ENDS