Jo Haylen MP has today welcomed news from Labor MP Penny Sharpe and Nationals MP Trevor Khan that they have given notice to the NSW Parliament that they will introduce a bill to provide 150m ‘safe access’ zones around abortion clinics in NSW.
The Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill will create offences within 150m of a reproductive health clinic and will see fines or up to 12 months gaol for those who:
- Interfere with people trying to enter or exit a reproductive health clinic including harassing, intimidating, hindering, obstructing or impeding the access of individuals;
- Cause distress or anxiety to people within the zone by calling out or communicating with people trying to enter or exit the clinic;
- Take or distribute photos, videos or recordings of people without their consent within the zone.
In NSW women are currently forced to run the gauntlet of organised groups and individuals who threaten, harass, intimidate and try to stop them entering the clinic with physical harassment and verbal abuse.
Women are jostled and filmed without their consent and handed misleading graphic images or foetus dolls and told that they are murderers and are going to hell. Staff at clinics report being followed, photographed and harassed on their way into and out of work.
The bill follows similar legislation has been enacted in Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT where it was found that current laws were failing to protect women who were seeking treatment at reproductive health clinics.
The bill is expected to be debated and voted on in the NSW Parliament before the NSW Parliament rises for the winter recess at the end of June.
Quotes attributable to Penny Sharpe MLC:
“ Our laws are failing to protect women, in fact the current laws are facilitating the public harassment of women as they seek medical treatment.
“ No where else in our community is this behaviour tolerated, this bill will guarantee that women in NSW have the same protection as other states and territories when it comes to making decisions about their reproductive health, free from the interference and harassment of others.”
Quotes attributable to Trevor Khan MLC:
“ This bill is about giving women the right to privacy, dignity and safety when they seek medical treatment.
“ I would expect nothing less for my daughter so I expect nothing less for any other woman in NSW.”
Quotes attributable to Jo Haylen MP:
“Ensuring women are safe when accessing reproductive health services is a critical issue for this Parliament. It is a testament to the work of Penny and Trevor that this bill continues to win cross-party support.
“The stories of the harassment women have experienced accessing medical treatment is truly horrifying. It is the duty of this Parliament to ensure the law protects women simply seeking a medical service.”