Monday, 7 September 2015

Safety zones around abortion clinics?

"Violent" protesters outside an abortion clinic

The Daniel Andrews government is on the verge of passing legislation that would create 150 meter “safe access” zones around abortion clinics in Victoria. This apparently is in response to groups of largely silent protesting pro-life groups who station themselves outside abortion clinics. 

For the record, I don't really like the idea of these groups of protesters, silent or otherwise, standing outside abortion clinics. Something about it doesn't sit well with me, no more than it would if groups of Satanists silently protested outside Sunday churches. But horses for courses and there are many stories of women who have forgone abortions based on the various other options given them by these silent protesters.

Let's get one thing straight though, these pro-life groups are largely peaceful. I know many of them personally. They congregate outside clinics praying, handing out pamphlets and providing advice about alternative options to abortions for anyone interested to stop and listen. Yes there has been the odd nut job harass a woman on route to a clinic but there are nut jobs in all walks of life. 

Predictably, the media and pro-abortionists have jumped on these few like sharks on a wounded seal and the argument is then framed as if all pro-life protesters are abusive. This is simply false. Go down to a clinic and check it out yourself if you have any doubts.

Putting the well versed argument about abortion aside, this potential law has come about after Sex Party MP, Fiona Patten, introduced a Private Members Bill into State Parliament which Labor and the Greens have backed. The bill is designed to jail or fine anyone found to be protesting within 150 meters of an abortion clinic. This is under the pretence of public safety, even though the very high majority are peaceful protesters. 

Interestingly, this bill would only target groups of protesters outside abortion clinics, not other groups of protesters outside other institutions. For example, Broken Rites, often protest outside Cathedrals and Churches but would not find themselves subject to this proposed law. 

Why would we enact legislation that discriminates against certain groups and political agendas? Is that the purpose of good legislation?

Victoria already has adequate anti-harassment laws that can and has dealt with cases of people harassing others on route to an abortion clinic. Why do we need “safety zones” to jail the minority of those that can be dealt with under current anti-harassment laws?

If you ask me, this proposed law has nothing to do with “safety zones” and the well being of staff and patients at abortion clinics. This has everything to do with shutting down debate via a dangerous restriction of free speech in order to eradicate the side of the argument that doesn't agree with the mainstream. It's a tactic that has become standard procedure for many in recent years, whether the topic be abortion, same sex marriage or anything else contentious.

As Katy Faust (a mother of lesbian parents and pro traditional marriage advocate) found out on the ABC’s Q&A a few weeks back, as soon as you vocalise an opinion that opposes the mainstream, your opinion is dismissed and slandered snd you are demonised for even having said opinion. 

In Faust’s case, Senator Sam Destyari  told her she was talking “evangelical claptrap” that stemmed from “a place of hate” simply because she said she believed a child had a right to a mother and father. This example of shutting down debate is even more bizarre given Faust’s opinion is one humanity has agreed with forever, until the last decade. 

It's staggering that those in favour of equality and tolerance shut down debate in a more intolerant way than the prejudice they supposedly stand against.

Creating legislation against public protest and political free speech, whether outside abortion clinics, church's, parliaments or any public place, is dangerously un-Australian, anti-democratic and flies in the face of the basic human right of free speech the Australian Constitution implicitly allows. 

All the best,

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