Protests Outside Abortion Clinics Are Finally Illegal Across All Of Australia

Content warning: This article discusses experiences with abortion in a way that some readers may find upsetting.
Protesting outside abortion clinics will no longer be allowed in any Australian states or territories after Western Australia became the final jurisdiction to pass laws to introduce safe access zones.
The Public Health Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2021 that was passed in state parliament on Thursday will prevent people from picketing within 150 metres of abortion service facilities at all times.
The legislation prohibits harassing, intimidating and threatening patients and staff as well as recording another person accessing premises at which abortions are provided, without their consent.
A maximum penalty of a $12,000 fine and 12 months imprisonment applies to anyone engaging in this behaviour in a safe access zone.
"For far too long women had to run the gauntlet of people outside abortion clinics," said WA's Health Minister Roger Cook in a press statement. "It is already a difficult and intensely personal decision without having to encounter a protest before undergoing a legal medical procedure."
The Human Rights Law Centre's associate legal director Adrianne Walters said the landmark decision was overdue and marked a "historic day" as safe access zones are now legislated in every state and territory.
“No one should have to run a gauntlet of abuse just to see their doctor," Walters said in an official statement. "These laws will ensure that no one is harassed or filmed by strangers as they walk to their doctor’s door for essential reproductive healthcare."
Family planning provider Marie Stopes said picketers spent approximately 2,295 hours each year outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Midland, WA.
The organisation's Managing Director, Jamal Hakim agreed it was a "momentous day", but also urged the government to take the next step in further eliminating barriers to reproductive health care.
“Next, we want to work with the government to increase access to abortion care in Western Australia," he said in a statement shared on the Marie Stopes website. "Currently, the criminal code still regulates abortion and there are significant outdated hurdles in accessing abortion care which still need to be addressed."
If you or anyone you know is in need of help or counselling, please contact Birthline at 08 8331 1223 or 1300 655 156 for 24/7 confidential support.

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