Regulation of the Abortion Drug RU 486: The Collision of Politics, Ethics and Morals in Australia

J Law Med. 2020 Aug;27(4):928-936.


The abortion drug RU 486 is widely available across the developed world, and its benefits and efficacy for women have been well established over the 40 years since its development. However, access to RU 486 for women in Australia has been a vexed issue since the mid-1990s. Because of pro-life politics under the Howard Government, importation of the drug into Australia was severely hampered, resulting in Australia lagging behind the rest of the developed world in access to medical abortions. This article highlights the history of RU 486, the current state of abortion laws in Australia and the issues that the politics of the 1990s still cause for Australian women who seek a medical abortion (especially those living remotely). Finally, it proposes some options that could alleviate some of the difficulties faced by those who seek access to RU 486.