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Why we need safe access zones outside Canberra’s abortion clinics

By Steven Bailey 1 September 2015 97

act health moore street

Many years ago, as a student of the Australian National University, I’d often ride my bike past the ACT Health building in the city and wonder why the front was often tasselled with such a ghoulish gathering. Perhaps it was a mimed version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show… in slow motion?

Always in a rush, and with a propensity for doing my homework whilst in transit, it wasn’t until years later that I realised the true nature of this ghostly and macabre congregation. They were there to shame and intimidate women who were seeking an abortion

When I first saw the trembling hands holding crosses juxtaposed with images of mutilated foetuses, I was bemused. I asked myself how people with such life experience could be so willing to torment people much younger than themselves.

According to Medicare statistics released in 2009, approximately one third of elective pregnancy terminations were for women under the age of twenty, many of whom were minors.

As of last night, it looks like Fiona Patten MLC, with the support of the Victorian Labor Government, will be successful in passing her safe access zones legislation. This legislation will protect vulnerable women and medical professionals from intimidation, persecution, and unnecessary suffering caused by protesting religious extremists in Victoria.

The purpose of the legislation is to protect people in their time of need with a 150-metre buffer zone around the fertility clinic or medical facility.

For me, this was never a debate about freedom of speech. For instance, I don’t think we teach our children enough of the beauty of literature and music in secondary schools, but that doesn’t mean I should be allowed to shame teachers and students as they walk to school each day.

We wouldn’t allow people to be intimidated each time they walked to a hospital or a psychologist’s clinic, or to donate blood.

This isn’t an issue of freedom of speech and it isn’t even an issue about abortion. The issue is whether we think it is right to allow women and children to be persecuted and abused by religious extremists in a time when they surely need society’s love and support.

To argue against safe access zones, on the basis of freedom of speech, is to condone the persecution and abuse of women and children in their time of need.

Safe access zones are about a progressive and caring Australia protecting vulnerable women and children. As a member of the Australian Sex Party, it’s encouraging to see that ACT legislators are beginning to adopt our policies. One, understandably, wonders why these policies were not adopted years before now but rather in the lead up to the first election where the ASP will be a serious contender in 2016. But… imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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Why we need safe access zones outside Canberra’s abortion clinics
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Lenient 12:32 pm 13 Sep 15

HenryBG said :

Lenient said :

your confused claptrap about “values” .

Haaaa haaa haaa haaaa haaa. I can’t possibly take credit for that. Those were written by the Howard government.

I’ll take notice of what you have to say (something about “dey terk our freederm ov speach”) when they start marching these kind hearted people off to room 101.

OpenYourMind 12:20 am 12 Sep 15

I’m a bit late to this one, but FFS, this is not about freedom of expression, it’s about stopping harassment. Even if that harassment is silent prayer, it’s still harassment of people targeted because of the medical procedure they are going in for. To me, that behaviour is as vile and repulsive as protesting at someone’s funeral or finding out someone uses contraception and setting up a ‘silent’ protest outside their home.

Those ‘protesters’ should be ashamed of themselves and the sooner this law is in place, the better.

Mels 9:48 pm 11 Sep 15

Besides, the Pope has said that women who have abortions are forgiven and shall not be excommunicated. Would he approve of this type of protest? He wants them cared for, not judged or harrassed.

HenryBG 9:45 pm 11 Sep 15

Lenient said :

Asking these people to move on still allows them to excercise freedom of speech,.

er…I think somebody took 1984 to be an instruction manual….

Firstly, nobody is “asking” them to move on – their right to demonstrate in a public place is being curtailed through legislation.

Secondly, by threatening them with arrest, their ability to exercise any freedom of speech is indeed precisely what *is* being attacked.

Once again, the dishonest verbiage peddled by lefties is precisely why we have ended up with Tony Abbot as PM: your confused claptrap about “values” doesn’t reflect the reality of our society, it reflects the Left’s continued adherence to a part of the moribund socialist ideology of the 1930s and 40s (political correctness) that is absolutely aimed at undermining our freedoms.

Lenient 4:06 pm 11 Sep 15

HenryBG said :

Lenient said :

“free speech is OK so long as it’s done somewhere else”.
.

Too right.

Australian values include valuing freedom of speech. But also our values include respect for the equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual, peacefulness and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces fair play, mutual respect, tolerance, compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good. Asking these people to move on still allows them to excercise freedom of speech, but without violating those other values.

Freedom of speech is not freedom to harm.

They can have their fair shake of sauce bottle but so can the people seeking the medical services they need. That is how Australia works.

Mels 11:06 am 11 Sep 15

chewy14 said :

Lenient said :

If these “peaceful protestors” are really protesting and not harrassing vulnerable people, they should do it outside the assembly or outside of politicians offices. The fact they are doing it outside a treeatment facility shows their true intentions..

Yes, it is obvious to tell their true intentions by protesting outside the clinic, that they believe humans are being killed inside.

I find it hard to understand why people don’t get that.

People do get that. They are not stupid, ill informed, uncaring or cruel. They know full well what it is and what happens.

The people who enter that building for that purpose are people who are in need of a legal medical service which is probably the hardest of all decisions to make.

And having made that decision they have to then go through the procedure and the recovery and none of that is easy.

So they have already been through the diagnosis, medical and other guidance on options, often talked ad nauseum with family, friends and others and battled within themselves as to the best outcome for them.

Once they are again attending the clinic they are forced to pass upsetting and graphic reminders of what they are doing from individuals who have no care or consideration of who these women are or why they are taking that path.

Yet these same individuals are sprouting love and compassion to fellow humans, what a joke.
These individuals have no thought or concern or care for the children, elderly and mentally ill who use the same premises for other reasons. They don’t consider the impact of their protest only that they get to offend, upset and disturb others in their quest to halt a procedure they don’t want.

So why are they so upset that they are asked to move? They are not telling them to stop. They are not telling them they are wrong or can’t continue. They are simply moving further away from the public access building that has multiple purposes and attendees.

Why don’t these protesters stand outside the hospitals? They have the same procedures done there?

HenryBG 11:34 pm 10 Sep 15

Lenient said :

If these “peaceful protestors” are really protesting and not harrassing vulnerable people, they should do it outside the assembly or outside of politicians offices. The fact they are doing it outside a treeatment facility shows their true intentions..

Right, so “free speech is OK so long as it’s done somewhere else”.

This is why we have Tony Abbott as PM: our lefties are so deeply untrustworthy we’ll vote for complete morons whose nonsense we at least understand.

watto23 4:10 pm 10 Sep 15

milkman said :

watto23 said :

I bet you they do complain and call the police. Churches and religions are very intolerable when its something they don’t believe in. They already interfere and try to stop legislation from changing regarding many issues, most recently SSM.

Big generalisation. There’s at least one mainstream Christian church in Canberra I know of that support SSM.

Agree its a generalisation, I don’t think its that big though as most opposition to that issue and the arguments put up use religion. However I’m well aware its not all, but you’d also be forgiven for thinking that, as the arguments I’ve seen use the ~60% of Australians on the last census as being Christian and therefore a silent majority opposes SSM.

I’d be very interested to see what a church did if a group decided to protest out the front of their church on any issue they disagree with. I suspect they wouldn’t like it and almost certain the people protesting out the front would be asked to move on. Next time I walk past I’m going to ask them, would they accept a pro-abortion silent protest out the front of their church. I’m curious, or maybe someone could try this 🙂

That is how I think of an issue like this regarding free speech. Its only an issue of free speech if they are happy to have the same thing happen to them. I suspect though its self righteouness and the belief they are right and everyone else is wrong. Same goes for shock jocks on the radio crying for free speech. Or pollies, except when the newspapers pick on them and they dig for reasons why its ok in one instance and not in the other.

chewy14 2:59 pm 10 Sep 15

Lenient said :

If these “peaceful protestors” are really protesting and not harrassing vulnerable people, they should do it outside the assembly or outside of politicians offices. The fact they are doing it outside a treeatment facility shows their true intentions..

Yes, it is obvious to tell their true intentions by protesting outside the clinic, that they believe humans are being killed inside.

I find it hard to understand why people don’t get that.

Lenient 12:26 pm 10 Sep 15

That article indicates that the rate of abortions is approximately 20 per 1000 women (aged 15-44). That is 2%, not a third.

That is the rate for a year. If people only ever had one abortion each the rate would be around 48% of people over the period 15-44, this is obviously an upper bound and it would definitely be less than this. If it if is only the same people having an abortion, the it would be around 2%, again obviously the lower limit.

There are no really good data sources on number of people ever having an abortion, but surveys have reported in peer reviewed journals that this could be around 20%. 20% is absolutely plausible given the annual rate, as would be 30%.

If these “peaceful protestors” are really protesting and not harrassing vulnerable people, they should do it outside the assembly or outside of politicians offices. The fact they are doing it outside a treeatment facility shows their true intentions..

chewy14 11:48 am 10 Sep 15

http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2011/06000/Changes_in_Abortion_Rates_Betweeen_2000_and_2008.14.aspx

Ok,
After a little bit of searching the best I found was this study from the USA for 2008. I have a suspicion this is where the figure has come from.

They’ve found the lifetime rate in the US was approx 3 out of ten although they’ve freely admitted there are limitations with the data that could cause overestimation. They are relying on the people seeking abortions admitting that they’ve had previous abortions to normalize for women who’d had multiple abortions. I think that’s very problematic but, it is what it is.

Interestingly in regards to Masquara’s comment about religious people, it seems that people who said they were religious (protestant, Catholic, or evangelical) had lower abortion rates than people who said they weren’t.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 11:07 am 10 Sep 15

Alexandra Craig said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Alexandra Craig said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Masquara said :

Raging Tempest said :

Masquara said :

About a third of Australian women will have an abortion. And the statistic is about the same for Catholic women.

Where do you get those stats from, given it has the same medicare code as a D&C, which is used after some miscarriages and a variety of other medical reasons?

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2005/182/9/estimating-australia-s-abortion-rates-1985-2003

That article indicates that the rate of abortions is approximately 20 per 1000 women (aged 15-44). That is 2%, not a third.

According to an article in the Times today, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT have said that 1 in 3 women will get at least one abortion in their lives.

That would be this article?

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/womens-groups-call-for-50metre-abortion-clinic-exclusion-zones-in-the-act-20150909-gjievq.html

I’d suggest some evidence would need to be be cited, especially in light of the ’20 in 1000′ figure from the other study referenced in this thread.

That study is significantly out of date though. The study only goes up to 2003. At some point after 2003 the drug RU486 was introduced which I think would probably have made abortions much more accessible for women.

I know anecdotal evidence doesn’t count but I know a fair few women that have had abortions – most of them in committed relationships, tertiary educated, great jobs with stable income etc. They just weren’t ready to have a child. And from what I’ve been told – they were all using contraception. They all had non-surgical abortions too.

It would be interesting to try to get some actual figures. RU486 would surely have made a difference. I’d still be very suprised if it was 1 in 3, though.

chewy14 11:05 am 10 Sep 15

Mysteryman said :

Alexandra Craig said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Masquara said :

Raging Tempest said :

Masquara said :

About a third of Australian women will have an abortion. And the statistic is about the same for Catholic women.

Where do you get those stats from, given it has the same medicare code as a D&C, which is used after some miscarriages and a variety of other medical reasons?

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2005/182/9/estimating-australia-s-abortion-rates-1985-2003

That article indicates that the rate of abortions is approximately 20 per 1000 women (aged 15-44). That is 2%, not a third.

According to an article in the Times today, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT have said that 1 in 3 women will get at least one abortion in their lives.

I find that very hard to believe. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I think it’s more likely that they’ve taken the total number of abortions compared to the number of women and extrapolated that data to suggest that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion, when it’s more likely that some women will get multiple abortions, while a far great number will get none.

Yep, that’s what I think, as I said in my previous comment. Sounds suspiciously like a #truefact to me, when the data availble seems to be so incomplete.

Alexandra Craig 9:47 am 10 Sep 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Alexandra Craig said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Masquara said :

Raging Tempest said :

Masquara said :

About a third of Australian women will have an abortion. And the statistic is about the same for Catholic women.

Where do you get those stats from, given it has the same medicare code as a D&C, which is used after some miscarriages and a variety of other medical reasons?

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2005/182/9/estimating-australia-s-abortion-rates-1985-2003

That article indicates that the rate of abortions is approximately 20 per 1000 women (aged 15-44). That is 2%, not a third.

According to an article in the Times today, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT have said that 1 in 3 women will get at least one abortion in their lives.

That would be this article?

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/womens-groups-call-for-50metre-abortion-clinic-exclusion-zones-in-the-act-20150909-gjievq.html

I’d suggest some evidence would need to be be cited, especially in light of the ’20 in 1000′ figure from the other study referenced in this thread.

That study is significantly out of date though. The study only goes up to 2003. At some point after 2003 the drug RU486 was introduced which I think would probably have made abortions much more accessible for women.

I know anecdotal evidence doesn’t count but I know a fair few women that have had abortions – most of them in committed relationships, tertiary educated, great jobs with stable income etc. They just weren’t ready to have a child. And from what I’ve been told – they were all using contraception. They all had non-surgical abortions too.

Mysteryman 9:42 am 10 Sep 15

Alexandra Craig said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Masquara said :

Raging Tempest said :

Masquara said :

About a third of Australian women will have an abortion. And the statistic is about the same for Catholic women.

Where do you get those stats from, given it has the same medicare code as a D&C, which is used after some miscarriages and a variety of other medical reasons?

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2005/182/9/estimating-australia-s-abortion-rates-1985-2003

That article indicates that the rate of abortions is approximately 20 per 1000 women (aged 15-44). That is 2%, not a third.

According to an article in the Times today, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT have said that 1 in 3 women will get at least one abortion in their lives.

I find that very hard to believe. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I think it’s more likely that they’ve taken the total number of abortions compared to the number of women and extrapolated that data to suggest that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion, when it’s more likely that some women will get multiple abortions, while a far great number will get none.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 9:23 am 10 Sep 15

Alexandra Craig said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Masquara said :

Raging Tempest said :

Masquara said :

About a third of Australian women will have an abortion. And the statistic is about the same for Catholic women.

Where do you get those stats from, given it has the same medicare code as a D&C, which is used after some miscarriages and a variety of other medical reasons?

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2005/182/9/estimating-australia-s-abortion-rates-1985-2003

That article indicates that the rate of abortions is approximately 20 per 1000 women (aged 15-44). That is 2%, not a third.

According to an article in the Times today, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT have said that 1 in 3 women will get at least one abortion in their lives.

That would be this article?

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/womens-groups-call-for-50metre-abortion-clinic-exclusion-zones-in-the-act-20150909-gjievq.html

I’d suggest some evidence would need to be be cited, especially in light of the ’20 in 1000′ figure from the other study referenced in this thread.

Alexandra Craig 8:38 am 10 Sep 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Masquara said :

Raging Tempest said :

Masquara said :

About a third of Australian women will have an abortion. And the statistic is about the same for Catholic women.

Where do you get those stats from, given it has the same medicare code as a D&C, which is used after some miscarriages and a variety of other medical reasons?

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2005/182/9/estimating-australia-s-abortion-rates-1985-2003

That article indicates that the rate of abortions is approximately 20 per 1000 women (aged 15-44). That is 2%, not a third.

According to an article in the Times today, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT have said that 1 in 3 women will get at least one abortion in their lives.

5

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