Sex Party MP Fiona Patten wants to create buffer zones around abortion clinics to protect women from protesters.
Protesters who harass women visiting abortion and fertility clinics will be banned from outside the centres, with the Labor government set to give in-principle support a Sex Party plan to create buffer zones.
Sex Party MP Fiona Patten introduced a bill to Parliament earlier this month to introduce the 150 metre zones around fertility and reproductive health clinics.
Her original bill sought to prohibit displaying materials about reproductive health services, yelling, singing, chanting and “recording of any variety”.
With no dominant force in the state’s upper house Ms Patten has been talking to all sides of politics about the legislation.
On afternoon ABC radio, Attorney-General Martin Pakula said it was
likely that the government would support the intention of the bill,
but it would have to go to caucus first. He also said it may require amendments or a completely new bill.
“There is a caucus process that we need to go through tomorrow, but let me say you should not be at all surprised if we do. It may require amendments and it may require another piece of legislation but we are working very hard on it and we are working with Fiona Patten on it,” MrPakula said
Several senior Labor sources say that the Andrews government is supportive of the intention of Ms Patten’s bill but work needs to be done on how the bill is drafted.
Work will be done to iron out some of the wording of the proposal to avoid some “unintended consequences” of the Sex Party plan to get the intention of Ms Patten’s bill passed.
However the issue still needs to go to caucus on Tuesday.
Caucus support should see Ms Patten’s bill pass the parliament, with the Greens also supportive of the proposal.
Ms Patten said she was “quietly confident” the bill would succeed. The Greens had already asked for some amendments and Ms Patten expects more amendments from the major parties.
Ms Patten said some government MPs had expressed their support for the bill’s objective.
“I feel like there’s majority support for the contents of the bill, without a doubt,” she said.
President of the upper house Bruce Atkinson, who unlike the Speaker votes regularly, has told people that he is supportive of the bill’s intention and that the issue is not about abortion, rather it is about protecting people from harassment.
Democratic Labour Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins has already voiced her opposition to the bill.
She previously told Fairfax Media she was concerned the restrictions could extend as far as pharmacies, although Ms Patten denied that suggestion.
On Monday, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy questioned why Ms Patten had voted to repeal the Coalition’s move-on laws and now wanted to introduce a law that would protect people from specific protesters.
“How can you go to Parliament two months ago vote to remove move-on laws and then bring in a bill that is move-on lite,” Mr Guy said.
He said the Sex Party plan would be discussed at shadow cabinet on Monday and the party room meeting on Tuesday.
Vote 1 Local Jobs MP James Purcell said he was yet to decide on how he would vote. His concerns included restrictions on free speech, the right to protest and the severity of penalties in the bill.
“But we’re equally strong on women’s rights,” he said.
Mr Purcell said his concerns were not insurmountable.