The High Court has today deemed valid laws to protect women and their families, as well as staff, at clinics and hospitals that provide termination services in Victoria and Tasmania.
“The long-fought battle to protect women from anti-abortion protestors is finally over,“ Reason Leader and Member for Northern Metropolitan, Fiona Patten said.
The High Court judges found that the laws did not impinge on political communication but were imperative in ensuring that women had safe and private access to medical treatment.
“The nation’s highest court has upheld the laws that the Reason Party helped introduce in Victoria, to ensure that protestors must remain 150 metres away from women’s reproductive health facilities. It vindicates the decision by the Victorian Government to back the Safe Access Zones Legislation I introduced and confirms the overwhelming public view that a women’s right to medical privacy is protected and that staff and patients’ families have a right to support women without being harassed and vilified.”
Ms Patten was instrumental in the introduction of Victoria’s Safe Access Zones Legislation after a prolonged campaign of harassment, assault and at one point murder, by the supporters of the group known as the Helpers of God’s Precious Children.
“These so-called ‘kerbside counsellors’ lurked around women’s health centres spouting their right-wing religious views, in particular around the facility in East Melbourne, stalking and intimidating people at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives,” Ms Patten said.
“Their actions even resulted in the murder of security guard Steven Rogers who we remember today.
“This decision reiterates, in no uncertain terms by the courts, that never again will women be forced to endure the abuse and highly distressing images that protestors at reproductive centres forced upon patients and their families. It’s a win for all Victorians – all Australians.”
Ms Patten also praised The Human Rights Law Centre and Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic, represented by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, who both intervened in the case to defend Victoria’s laws.
“I thank all those who gave their time to help defend the laws and ensured this victory was achieved.”
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To organise an interview with Fiona Patten, please phone Kaitlin Bartlett directly.
Media Contact: Kaitlin Bartlett
Phone: 0432 294 500