The safety, wellbeing and dignity of women seeking reproductive
health services is a step closer to being protected in New South
Wales through a bill that would guarantee safe access zones around
Labor MLC, Penny Sharpe, and Nationals MLC, Trevor Khan, are
co-sponsoring the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to
Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill, which will come before the
Legislative Council today.
Adrianne Walters, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre,
said the bill was absolutely vital to protecting a womans right to
safely access health services.
"For far too long, women in NSW have had to run a gauntlet of
intimidation and abuse just to see their doctor. Safe access zones
are a straightforward and sensible solution. It's mind-boggling
that in 2018 women are harassed, blocked and filmed when trying to
get to the clinic doors," said Walters.
The bill would create 150 metre zones around medical clinics
that provide abortions, where it will be unlawful to harass,
intimidate or film people without consent, or to communicate about
abortions in a manner likely to cause anxiety or distress.
Tasmania, Victoria, the ACT and Northern Territory already have
safe access zones around abortion clinics.
Paul Nattrass, Practice Manager at The Private Clinic, a
reproductive healthcare service in Sydney, said ensuring women have
safe passage to reproductive healthcare will be a huge step forward
"The creation of safe zones outside clinic entrances is vital to
counter the aggressive and intimidating tactics used by
anti-abortionists. No one should have to suffer the forceful,
intrusive questioning of their medical treatment from a stranger in
the street under any circumstances. The right to access health
services safely and privately is fundamental to our
society," said Mr Nattrass.
Abortion remains in the criminal statute books of New South
Wales, with exceptions that enable women to access abortion
services but place decision-making power in the hands of doctors.
The bill does not seek to decriminalise abortion.
Walters said it was also time for the NSW Government to
decriminalise abortion and respect women as competent
decision-makers over their own bodies and lives.
"It is simply unacceptable that women and their doctors still
run the risk of prosecution for undertaking a safe medical
procedure; a procedure that takes place every week in NSW and
across Australia. The law is hopelessly out of step with modern
clinical practice, community standards and womens basic
rights," said Walters.
For interviews Adrianne Walters and Paul Nattrass or further
information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights