This campaign has now concluded. Sadly, Parliament passed the bill.
The so-called Health Care (Safe Access) Amendment Bill was introduced last month by Labor MP Nat Cook.
Cook’s bill would ban “prohibited behaviour” within 150 metres of an abortion clinic.
Prohibited behaviour would mean:
(a) to threaten, intimidate or harass another person; or
(b) to obstruct another person approaching, entering or leaving protected premises; or
(c) to record (by any means whatsoever) images of a person approaching, entering or leaving protected premises; or
(d) to communicate by any means in relation to abortions in a manner that is able to be seen or heard by a person accessing, attempting to access, or leaving protected premises and that is reasonably likely to cause distress or anxiety.
The maximum penalty for breaching these new laws would be a $10,000 fine or 12 months in jail.
But here’s the thing. Like many other social “crises”, it’s almost completely manufactured.
Where are all the “threatening” pro-lifers in SA? Where are all the convictions for such behaviour? In what way are the current laws unable to cope with threatening behaviour?
So what’s this bill really about then?
For starters, it would prevent any offers of assistance to women (and others, such as husbands or partners) who might be entering an abortion clinic.
Such help might include everything from financial and material assistance during and after pregnancy, right through to simple emotional support.
Many people seeking an abortion feel completely devoid of support. They may feel completely alone. How will this bill help them?
On top of this, despite reassurances from some MPs, there is the very real prospect of this bill even banning prayer outside such clinics – as has occurred in other jurisdictions.
This bill stands contrary to freedom of speech, assembly, and belief. It’s irrelevant that other Australian states and territories have introduced such “bubbles” or “safe access” zones as they’re euphemistically termed.
We need to let our MPs know urgently that – even if they support abortion – there is absolutely no reason to prevent meaningful support being offered to those in need, or to ban public prayer.