Anti-abortion protests will be banned outside ACT abortion clinics after government MLAs rejected Liberal amendments to a Greens bill on exclusion zones in such scenarios.
Labor MLAs will support a Greens bill that would secure exclusions zones around abortion clinics; despite the Liberals submitting a proposal that removes critical parts of the legislation, according to Minister of Health Simon Corbell.
“People requiring legal medical treatment, no matter what it is, should be able to get that treatment in privacy and safety,” Mr Corbell said.
“The termination of a pregnancy is legal in the ACT and if protestors want to undertake in political activism through peaceful assembly then they should bring that activism to their political representatives, not to individuals seeking legal medical services.”
The bill, proposed by Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, would prevent protestors on congregating on footpaths and streets, near a clinic such as the ACT Health building in the city.
In March, Canberra and Goulburn’s Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse led a prayer vigil outside the clinic, and the proposed bill aims to stop such activities. These activities and protests can have a negative mental health impact, and can cause distress and intimidation, as previously reported by women accessing these health services, a statement from Mr Corbell’s office said.
The Liberals’ amendments would have allowed protests to continue directly outside the abortion clinics. The section of the proposed bill the Canberra Liberals want removed specifies that prohibited behaviour in a protected area around an approved medical facility includes, “a protest, by any means, in the protected period in relation to the provision of abortions in the approved medical facility”.