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Australia drops aid ban on abortion advice
CANBERRA, March 10 (Reuters) - Australia's government on Tuesday scrapped a ban preventing overseas aid being used for abortion advice, following a recent U.S. decision to overturn similar prohibitions.
The ban was put in place in 1996 by Australia's previous conservative government and prevented overseas aid funding being used for anything involving termination of a pregnancy.
"This is a difficult issue and the government recognises that there are strong views, firmly held, on all sides. Avoiding terminations through family planning services and advice will continue to be the focus of Australian-funded activities," Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement.
Australian and international aid agencies would be able to choose what services they deliver in line with their own philosophies, but Smith said he hoped the estimated 42 million terminations performed globally each year could be reduced.
Australia would spend an additional $9.5 million over the next four years on family planning and reproductive health activities to help reduce maternal deaths, he said.
($1=1.580 Australian Dollar) (Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Valerie Lee)
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