The Victorian government has agreed to bring in legislation that will ban anti-abortion campaigners from protesting within 150 metres of an abortion or fertility clinic in the state.
The move follows Sex Party MP Fiona Patten’s private member’s bill, which called for the creation of the buffer zones to safeguard patients and staff in anti-abortion clinics.
The legislation – which constitutes the act of filming people without consent or blocking access to footpaths, roads and vehicles illegal within the zone around GP clinics, hospitals and other health services offering abortions – was passed by 31 votes to eight in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Women have a right to medical privacy and the right to access a legal health service without harassment or intimidation,” Health Minister Jill Hennessy said, stressing that the measures were long overdue.
Victoria is expected to introduce the bill before the end of 2015 imposing harsh penalties on anti-abortion campaigners, who are expected to ‘test’ the leniency of the law.
Women’s health campaigners also welcomed the news, even though the Victorian government has not agreed to enforce all the terms contained in the MP’s private bill.
Source: AP, SBS