Category: Safe Access Zones Around Women’s Health Clinics

Created 150m safe access (protest free zones) around women’s reproductive health clinics

Fiona Patten is responsible for the Victorian Laws that created safe access zones around women’s reproductive health clinics. For too long, women accessing abortion services had been subject to verbal and psychological abuse designed to discourage them from accessing these services.

In August 2015, Fiona Patten MP introduced a private members bill to amend the Public Health and Wellbeing Act. Following extensive negotiation, she garnered Government support for this reform, which passed the Victorian Parliament on 27 November 2015 and became law in Victoria on 2 May 2016.

Because of this reform Victorian women can access lawful medical services without fear, intimidation, harassment or obstruction.

The laws support women’s reproductive health choices by establishing a 150 metre zone around hospitals, GP clinics and health services that perform abortions and creating an offence to engage in behaviour that harasses or intimidates women seeking to access an abortion. The legislation also protects the rights of women to medical privacy by making it illegal for people to film people without consent within the safe access zone, or for anyone to impede access to a footpath, road or vehicle without a reasonable excuse within the zone.

In her second reading speech on the bill, the Late Fiona Richardson MP, and then Minister for Women, said these words on this reform:

“In concluding, I congratulate Fiona Patten, a member for Northern Metropolitan Region in the other place representing the Australian Sex Party. Safe access bill provides the right balance between the freedom of women to safely access services and the right to protest. She has made a significant contribution for women in bringing this bill before the Parliament. It is worth noting also that as a minor party member she has done more in nine months than any of the Greens MPs, who have been in this Parliament for nine years. I salute Fiona. Working collaboratively with her has been a pleasure and serves as a lesson to the Greens party members in particular.”

Fiona Patten is delighted to note that the Canadian province of Ontario has now adopted our legislation  and countries like Great Britain are looking to copy this model.

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