A bill co-sponsored by Nationals MLC Trevor Khan and introduced into the NSW Legislative Council could alienate the conservative base of the National Party, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
“The National Party’s constitution states that the family is the basis of a strong and stable society and that they believe in freedom of speech,” ACL NSW director Kieren Jackson said.
“Supporters of the Party will be asking why a member of the Nationals, known for its pro-family, conservative principles, is co-sponsoring this bill with Labor MLC Penny Sharpe.
“With an election early next year it is surprising a member of the Nationals would drift so far from his base,” he said.
If passed, the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2018(NSW) will prevent any offer of sidewalk support to mothers considering abortion.
“Once communication is banned in zones around abortion facilities then the kind and gentle offer of support will become an offence. Women entering the clinic find themselves in a place of deep difficulty and need genuine independent information and support. This bill removes that support and replaces it with nothing,” Mr Jackson said.
The bill comes at a time when legislation in both Victoria and Tasmania, containing similar provisions to the Khan/Sharpe Bill has been challenged in the High Court.
Previous Media Release from ACL
Anti-abortion protesters face jail time under new ‘safe access’ bill
Cases before the High Court
The case of Clubb v Edwards and Attorney General of Victoria involved a woman convicted in the Melbourne Magistrates Court of prohibited behaviour within an exclusion zone by communicating about abortion in a way that can be seen or heard. The prohibited behavior was the offering of support to a person entering the clinic by handing her a leaflet. Clubb then appealed the matter to the Supreme Court of Victoria. In the meantime, an application to have the matter heard in the High Court was supported by the Victorian Attorney-General and the High Court has now taken up the case.
A second case, Police v Preston and Stallard  TASMC involved a man who was convicted in the Hobart Magistrates Court of prohibited behaviour within an exclusion zone by protesting abortions. Preston appealed to the Supreme Court of Tasmania. Approval was granted for the appeal to be heard by the full bench of the Supreme Court, but the hearing was delayed. The High Court has taken the case up and will be heard jointly with the Clubb case.
According to a recent Queensland Galaxy Poll independent counselling is desired by 90 per cent of voters.
Research on reasons for abortion
An independent study compiled for Women’s Forum Australia shows most women and girls who have abortions do so because of a lack of support from partners, parents and friends. The study found 70 per cent of women say they felt they had no alternative to abortion.
- Selena Ewing, Women and Abortion: An Evidence-Based Review,2005; a meta-analysis of Australian and international research on why women have abortion, compiled for a Women’s Forum Australia parliamentary submission.