Showing a picture of a dead foetus in public is now a crime following a ruling in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday which will strengthen the hand of the abortion industry lobby across Australia, warns the Australian Christian Lobby.
ACL spokesperson for women, Wendy Francis, said that the effect of the decision was to ban the display of realistic images of aborted babies everywhere from the steps of parliament to lecture theatres and even church services.
In an Australian first, the Court confirmed that images of dead unborn babies cannot be displayed in public because they are too disgusting and “may be so distressing as to be potentially harmful.”
"In practical terms this decision will mean the pro-life political case can no longer show the truth about abortion in public,” Ms Francis said.
“The effect of the decision is draconian because public places include not just parks and roads, but even church services, lecture theatres, schools and other places where such images will be banned by the criminal law,” Ms Francis said.
“It is a sad indictment on our society when we can’t stand the truth because it might offend.
“This is another way to silence women who are traumatised by the loss of a baby and who want to stop other women from making the same tragic mistakes."
The case upheld the criminal conviction of Michelle Fraser, a pro-life woman, for displaying an image of a dead foetus in public at a peaceful demonstration against abortion in 2013.
“This decision will mean the pro-life political case cannot be made in its most effective form. The truth about abortion cannot be shown to the public – it is a practise that will remain hidden behind closed doors,” Ms Francis said.
Legal representation for Ms Fraser was arranged by the Human Rights Law Alliance.
Human Rights Law Alliance Director, Martyn Iles, said that whilst it was a Victorian decision, similar laws existed in other states which can be applied in the same way to prevent this kind of pro-life political speech.
“The effect of the decision is to determine that any image of a dead foetus or the ‘products of an abortion’ is obscene and therefore its display is a criminal act under laws that ban obscenity which exist in several Australian jurisdictions,” Mr Iles said.
Lawyers for Ms Fraser argued that the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of political communication meant that the images could not be banned.
“It is a principle of Constitutional law in Australia that no law can unreasonably burden free communication on political matters among voters. The law has developed to recognise that this is so even where communication might be seriously offensive,” Mr Iles said.
“Often it is the shocking nature of a political communication which is the very thing that makes it effective, especially where, far from being gratuitous or unrealistic, the images are shocking precisely because they portray the truth about abortion to the public.
“The world was awakened to the horrors of ISIS when we saw a young boy holding up a severed head on prime-time television reports and the front page of newspapers. Political action was fuelled by the shocking image of a drowned toddler on a Turkish beach, exposing the horrors of the European refugee crisis. Banning the overt communication such truth would be a travesty, as it is in the present case with respect to abortions,” Mr Iles said.