The importance of freedom of speech has been a key message of anti-abortion campaigners, however, Camperdown lawyer Kirsty Gan notes it’s important to consider the differences in Australia’s laws compared to America.
“I think it’s important to recall that Australia doesn’t have a US-style positive right to say whatever you like. Rather, the constitutional scheme in Australia permits laws that restrict speech so long as the laws are proportionate and reasonable. Preventing the harassment of women at a vulnerable time in their lives seems like a good enough reason to me,” the 25-year-old said.
As for some, like 23-year-old Hugo Webster, the 150-metre safe access zone wasn’t enough of a step.
“150 metres outside the clinic is not the right place, anywhere but there. Go elsewhere to do it, have your rallies or campaigning where it is more appropriate,” the Coogee waiter said.
Kieren Liu, a 20-year-old old student at the University of New South Wales hadn’t even heard of safe access zones and was “really shocked” that such a law wasn’t already in place. Liu questioned the validity of protestors objections stating, “I bet that the people protesting are the same ones that would be criticizing teen pregnancy and you can’t be against both! It’s so hypocritical. Women have a right to make choices about their bodies. It’s nobody else’s business.”
For Bronie Condon, a student from UNSW who’s majoring in Women and Gender Studies, the most important aspect of the safe access zone bill was more specific.
“People can’t take photos without consent, which is also so important to allow these women to have space where they can’t be witnessed walking in and out of the clinic… Protestors just heighten the anxiety and it’s just cruel. It’s so important to keep the abortion process protected.”