[JURIST] The Australian Senate [official website] on Thursday voted to remove the need for the health minister's approval for importing and prescribing the abortion pill RU-486 (also known as Mifepristone) [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The approval requirement effectively prohibits use of the drug since conservative anti-abortionist Tony Abbott [official website] holds the office of health minister and the power to veto applications for the drug.
The Senate voted 45-28 in favor of lifting the approval requirement after two days of vigorous debate in which two members openly discussed personal experiences with abortion. The Australian House of Representatives [official website] will consider the nonpartisan bill [PDF text] next week in what is expected to be a closer vote. Reuters has more.