By Gudrun Schultz

SYDNEY, Australia, January 30, 2006 ( – Tens of thousands of people rallied yesterday to oppose a bill giving Australian women access to the dangerous abortion pill, RU-486.

The Australian Senate will vote in just over a week on a private members’ bill to overturn current laws that allow pro-life Health Minister Tony Abbott to prevent the pill’s distribution in the country.

Australians Against RU-486, a national coalition of concerned groups including both pro-life and abortion advocates, organized a National Day of Action Jan. 29 to campaign against the bill.

“We’re pleased with the amount of public support – greater than we expected given the time of year,” Simone Holzapfel, executive director of Australians Against RU-486, said in an interview with CNSNews. “It indicated that there’s a significant feeling in the community.”

Ms. Holzapfel said she expected close to 75,000 letters had been written to individual senators as a result of Sunday’s activity.

Dr. David van Gend, a representative of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life, said the drug requires a unique level of public accountability because of the nature of its intended use.

“RU-486 is a unique drug in that no other drug is designed to end a human life. Pregnancy is not a disease; RU-486 is used on the entirely healthy offspring of entirely healthy women. That is unique, and medically unjustifiable.”

RU-468 has been linked to the deaths of at least 10 women in Europe and the U.S, as well as a multitude of cases of severe complications in women who have used it. In the US alone, there have been more than 600 ‘adverse events’ reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).Â

The pill, taken within the first seven weeks of pregnancy, causes a “medical abortion” by preventing the placenta from delivering nutrients to the baby, who dies.

The drug causes severe pain and bleeding. Deaths have resulted from septic shock after infections have occurred. Up to 10 percent of women have an incomplete abortion after taking RU-486 and then need a surgical abortion. Up to five percent of women suffer severe blood loss that requires medical intervention.

RU-486 was effectively banned in Australia under laws introduced by pro-life senator Brian Harradine. Despite this, the country has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. An estimated 91,000 abortions take place each year—one in five pregnancies ends in abortion.