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Australia Probes Abortion

May 10, 1999

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ Australia bowed to pressure Monday and set up an independent inquiry into claims that an unborn child was forcibly aborted after its mother was deported to China.

The investigation follows claims by independent Sen. Brian Harradine that Australian officials ignored a plea from the eight-month pregnant woman not to be deported.

She feared her baby would be killed under China’s one child policy, Harradine said.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock announced Monday that David Sadlier, a former Australian ambassador to China and former intelligence organization chief, would head the inquiry.

Ruddock said the government took the claims very seriously and was determined to make sure the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the woman’s deportation was thorough.

Ruddock said Australia had made urgent inquiries with Chinese authorities following reports that the woman was now on the run after her name was published.

He said the woman had been found not to be a refugee after she arrived in Australia in 1994.

She already had one child, and became pregnant while being held in an immigration detention center in Australia.

``I determined quite early in the piece that there was no basis for a humanitarian stay,″ Ruddock said. ``After that, she became pregnant again and there were further attempts to lodge an asylum claim. They were rejected.″

Monday’s announcement follows calls from Amnesty International, Harradine and the opposition Labor Party for a full and independent inquiry.

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