PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has set the Christian lobby, a key Labor powerbroker and a crucial balance-of-power Senator against him over Australia's move to scrap a 13-year-old ban on foreign aid being used to fund safer abortions for women in poor nations.
But the historic shift was lauded by a wide array of aid agencies, women's groups, family planning experts and many cross-party federal politicians, who said it would save the lives of thousands of women who would otherwise die in botched backyard operations.
All of a sudden, I'm almost liking Kevin.
The Prime Minister was targeted by his Christian base after revealing that he backed but did not personally support the decision by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to axe the ban - two months after US President Barack Obama overturned a similar ban in his country.
Mr Rudd told a meeting of Labor MPs he had "long-standing conservative views" on the issue, but said a clear majority of Labor MPs backed a change.
The Australian Christian Lobby, which gave him a platform to reach 100,000 Christians by TV before the last election, threatened to campaign against him at the next election.
And Family First senator Steve Fielding, whose vote is crucial for Labor on key parts of its agenda, lashed out personally at Mr Rudd for being "rolled" by his party. "When it comes to the crunch on values issues, the Prime Minister wimps out," he said.
It seems to me that preventing women from dying from backward abortions isn't so much a 'values' issues then it is a 'compassion and humanity' value.
The ban was imposed by the former Howard Government in 1996 to appease former Tasmanian independent senator Brian Harradine, who held a pivotal Senate vote.
Mr Smith said the focus of Australia's foreign aid would remain on avoiding abortions by providing better family planning education, as he pledged to boost funds for preventing maternal deaths by $15 million over four years. He said it was a tragedy that an estimated 68,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions - leaving 220,000 children without mothers.
A wide coalition of groups has been campaigning for years for the ban to be lifted, led by cross-party politicians including Liberal MPs Sharman Stone and Mal Washer, former Democrats leader Lyn Allison and Labor Senator Claire Moore.
But prominent anti-abortion senators, including National Ron Boswell, Liberal Guy Barnett and Labor's Mark Bishop, were outraged.
Australian Reproductive Health Alliance chief Jane Singleton said the "humane and enlightened" change would save thousands of women's lives.
But Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace said Christian voters had been betrayed - and pledged to campaign on the issue.
The Catholic Church branded the move "a cause for great sadness" and "very bad news for women and unborn children in the developing world". It urged Mr Rudd to reverse the decision.
There is a level of political bravery from Rudd. No-one expected him to overturn the ban (certainly not me). Indeed, it would have been much easier to simply do nothing and keep the
I won't be voting Labor in 2010, but I would like to humbly thank Rudd for not being totally Howard-lite.
And on a final note (again): if God is anti-abortion, why do at least 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage-a natural abortion? Riddle me that, you misogynic turds with nothing better to be outraged about then improved reproductive rights.