Last night the Legislative Council passed Health Care (Health Access Zones) Amendment Bill 2019 with 12 Ayes and 5 Noes. It will now go to the Lower House, where Labor MP Nat Cook will take leadership of the Bill. This Bill established a 150 metre safe access zone around premises that provide abortion services, protecting health care workers and people seeking health care services from intimidation, threats, and harassment.
All other Australian state and territories except SA and WA have established “Safe Access Zones” to protect patients and health care workers from harassment by anti-abortion protestors. Earlier this year the WA Government completed consultation for a similar bill in that state. Earlier this year a High Court challenge against Safe Access Zones was lost. The High Court ruled in April this year that “safe access zones” around health care premises that provide abortion services are constitutionally valid.
Safe Access Zones are supported by the Human Rights Legal Centre, the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition (SAAAC), and the Law Society (SA).
The following quotes are attributable to Ms. Franks:
“This is an important step towards providing safety and dignity of health workers and patients. No worker, and no woman seeking health care, should be made to run a gauntlet of protest and preaching – and we are now one step closer to making sure that never happens again.
“SA is behind when it comes to these important reforms, but it was great to see the Bill receive overwhelming support in the Upper House last night.
“Of course protest has a place but this Bill contends, as the High Court also found, that the place for protesting abortion is not right in the face of a woman attending a health clinic.”