Please allow us to pray
On Wednesday, 22 July 2020, the SA Lower House will debate and possibly vote on the Health Care (Safe Access) Amendment Bill 2020.
The Bill will establish 70,000 square metre zones in at least 12 areas (possibly more) in South Australia where it will be against the law to communicate about abortion in a way that can be seen and heard by those entering or leaving a place where abortions are carried out.
As it stands, this Bill will:
- ban silent prayer;
- stop those who want to offer pregnancy support to women who do not want to have an abortion but do so as they feel they have no alternative;
- affect the freedom to communicate publicly about abortion in large areas of SA.
Sadly, it looks like this Bill will pass in some form.
However, I have written to a number of MPs asking them to not support the Bill in its current form and to vote for key amendments such as allowing silent prayer, offers of help and preserving the rights of organisations which were in zones before they commenced to operate (see my letter below).
Please pray, for the effective fervent prayer of the righteous avails much (James 5:16). It would also be helpful if you wrote to, rang or visited your Lower House MPs in relation to this matter and say what God prompts you to say.
Letter written by Christopher Brohier to SA MPs with proposed amendments:
Re: Health Care (Safe Access) Amendment Bill 2020
On 22 July 2020 the House will resume debate on the Bill. There are currently 87 prescribed hospitals in relation to abortions. However the South Australian Law Reform Institute’s (SALRI) Report states that many of these no longer exist or no longer provide abortion services. The SA Health website, by contrast lists 12 locations where abortions may be provided. This means there will be between 12-87 zones imposed by this Bill. As you vote, please consider that the Bill will not only affect the Woodville Pregnancy Advisory Centre but the whole of SA, in places where there has never been, and never will be, a problem. The Bill must be redrafted to change this dramatic effect.
Please also support the foreshadowed amendment of Minister David Spiers to specifically allow silent prayer. Please also support amendments to allow offers of assistance to people and to preserve existing use rights.
The Bill will outlaw silent prayers in the Zone. In the Clubb case, three judges of the High Court said that even silent observation may breach the Victorian law (which is relevantly exactly the same as the Bill) (Clubb v Edwards paragraphs 88-89).
Those who pray outside the Woodville Clinic do not and have no desire to harass anyone. Rather they want to offer assistance to women who feel they have no choice but to have an abortion.
This is a true story:
“Back in 2004 my wife and I wanted to buy a house, when we learned the news that she was pregnant. We wanted my wife to work and build a deposit for a house… We both thought that we will have an abortion… we went to one abortion clinic in the city.
We saw Claire* and a group there… They were praying and talking to people.
We went closer to them and they asked where we were going? We said we were going to the abortion clinic. They asked if they could talk to us and we said “Yes”.
…We talked for about 20 minutes.
I said, “It is not my decision, my wife needs to decide.” We went into the abortion clinic and sat down. After about 1-2 minutes my wife said, “I don’t want to do an abortion.” We then left.
We had a child who is now 15 years old and is doing well.
When we talked to Claire* they asked why we wanted to have an abortion? We said we wanted to buy a house and we had short term financial problems. Claire* said they could help us solve the short-term financial problems.”
(*Claire substituted for real name)
The story goes on to say that the couple received substantial assistance from those who spoke to them outside the clinic, which allowed them to keep their child. It illustrates that those who have been unfairly labeled as “protestors” are willing to make substantial sacrifices to ensure women have genuine choice and are not funneled into having abortions.
Please support an amendment which will allow assistance to vulnerable people to continue. I attach a draft amendment for your consideration.
The widespread effect of the Bill, if unamended, requires existing use rights to be preserved. Even more so, if abortion is opened up to commercial providers, as the Attorney-General’s proposed reform bill will do. I attach, for your consideration, an amendment to preserve those rights.
The Bill will not prohibit:
1. silent prayer;
2. written offers of assistance to persons entering protected premises displayed by a person who is at least 20 metres away from the entrance to protected premises by a sign the dimensions of which are no greater than that which is prescribed by the regulations;
3. the normal course of day to day business by any business, charity or religious organisation, which was located in a health access zone before the commencement of the Act or a Zone.