Getting an abortion is a hard enough decision for any woman to make, without facing intimidation from total strangers who have no business telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies, writes Senator Larissa Waters.
Have you ever attended a protest? I’ve been to a tonne of them.
I have protested for action on climate change, against war, to save the Reef, for more humane treatment of asylum seekers, for farmland to be protected from coal and coal seam gas, for same sex marriage rights, the list goes on. I deeply value my right to gather with others and call for change in the public interest.
Yet I am outraged by the idea that anti-abortion protesters would stand outside abortion clinics and intimidate, judge and harass women as they access a medical procedure.
Many women have abortions. It is as common as it is often difficult and emotionally distressing for women who make that choice.
So, how dare those often old, white, religious men harass women on their way to or from that often incredibly difficult experience?
Women should have the right to access safe, legal abortion and medical privacy without fear, intimidation or harassment by anti-choice protesters. And this week the ACT Justice Minister and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, released draft legislation to ensure just that.
Minister Rattenbury released draft legislation to create harassment-free exclusion zones around abortion clinics in the ACT, making it illegal to harass, hinder, intimidate, interfere with, threaten or obstruct anyone entering an abortion clinic.
This is an essential reform to protect the rights of women to medical privacy and their human right to freely access safe and legal abortion services. Getting an abortion is a hard enough decision for any woman to make, without facing intimidation from total strangers who have no business telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies.We must respect women’s fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies.
Access to abortion services is already far too difficult in many states. Abortion is still in the criminal code in New South Wales and Queensland, creating stigma and uncertainty that makes women feel unnecessarily isolated and afraid. Legal uncertainty also makes it harder for doctors and hospitals to offer abortions.