The privacy zone around a health clinic in Civic has been extended to provide further protection for women accessing legal medical treatments, including abortion.
ACT health minister Simon Corbell said the extension, effective from Thursday, will include any areas accessible by the public around the clinic at 1 Moore Street.
The protest-free zone was introduced in March to ensure women could access medical services without being harassed, intimidated or judged by others. Unfortunately, anti-abortion protests had continued on the fringes of the zone within the line of site of people accessing treatment, Corbell said.
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The extended zone will include Rudd Street, West Row and the alley way of Odgers Lane, and surrounding roads, footpaths, gutters, outdoor areas and other areas underneath a building’s facade.
Protesting or behaviour that increases emotional distress or may prevent women from accessing legal and medically recognised health procedures is prohibited within the defined protest-free zone between 7am and 6pm on business days to align with the opening hours of the facility.
The extended protest-free zone had been developed in consultation with key stakeholders, including the ACT Human Rights Commission and police, to strike a balance between protecting women’s rights to safe and legal health care and the rights of protesters, Corbell said.
“From tomorrow, if an individual is found protesting within the new area, ACT Health’s security personnel will notify them about the extension of the protest-free zone and ask them to leave,” he added.
“If the person chooses to remain, ACT Policing will be notified and penalties may apply.”
Information about the extended protest-free zone, including a new map, is available on the ACT Health website at: www.health.act.gov.au/consumerinformation/protestfreezone.
The Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment Act 2015 is available at: www.legislation.act.gov.au.