24 November 2015

The Australian Christian Lobby urges members of the Victorian Legislative Council to reject a draconian and unnecessary bill that will make it a crime for any pro-life communication within 150 metres of public hospitals, doctor’s clinics and abortion clinics.

Australian Christian Lobby Victorian Director Dan Flynn said those involved in peaceful prayers or pro-life talks in churches, universities or pregnancy support centres near abortion clinics or doctor surgeries will face potential jail terms if legislation for the 150 metre exclusion zones is passed.

He said the law would be unworkable as it will apply to the estimated 40,000 GPs operating from clinics throughout Victoria who can prescribe the abortion pill, RU 486.

“The Victorian Government earlier this year repealed Victoria’s “move on” laws as an unfair restriction on free speech. At that time the Attorney General Martin Pakula proclaimed that ‘Victoria doesn’t need Bjelke-Petersen-style laws designed to silence dissent and outlaw peaceful protests.’

“But that is exactly what the Government is now introducing. For example, the ban on pro-life discussion within 150 metres, as it relates to the Marie Stopes abortion clinic at 182-184 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne prevents all pro-life discussion in the grounds of the Greek Orthodox Church next door, the Australian Catholic University and the Catholic Education Office,  in case it could be heard by someone on their way to or from that clinic.

“The banning of any pro-life communication within 150 metres of an abortion clinic is simply the Government silencing any speech that it does not agree with,” Mr Flynn said.

“If the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill is passed today, compassionate people that offer support and alternatives to abortion will be targeted, as a pretense for shutting down free speech to protect the abortion industry.

“While the ACL believes the government does have a legitimate role in protecting public safety and patient access to lawful services, these rights are already protected under existing laws.

“Parliamentarians need to be mindful that this law is not just about providing public safety, which is already sufficiently covered by laws, but is a deliberate attempt to stop vulnerable expectant mothers from having excess to balanced information and a caring hand.”

Around 300 Victorian lives have been saved over the past 20 years because of the peaceful and gentle persuasion of pro-life advocates, Mr Flynn said.