THE McGowan Government has started the process to introduce safe access zones at abortion clinics in WA.
This comes after the anti-abortion group 40 Days For Life were given a permit to pray outside a Marie Stopes’ clinic in Perth, and the Nanyara clinic in Rivervale for Lent.
In a statement today, the government said it supports the introduction of safe access zones.
Safe access zones currently exist in Victoria, the ACT and Northern Territory.
These zones are designed to address concerns regarding the safety and wellbeing of patients and staff entering premises offering abortion and reproductive and fertility health services.
It has been reported recently that doctors and nurses working at the Marie Stopes clinic have started wearing body cameras to deter protestors.
Anti-abortion group in Perth praying outside clinics for Lent
The group 40 Days for Life have been praying from 7am to 5pm each day outside of Marie Stopes and Nanyara clinics and will continue until the end of Lent (April 18).
The permit for the group to be there was issued by WA Police under the Public Order in Streets Act 1984.
The Perth based branch of the pro-life movement claims to have prevented 14 mothers from pursuing an abortion during previous campaigns.
The group believe that women are manipulated into choosing abortion.
It is written in a mission statement that “abortion is an injustice not only against the unborn but also against women”.
1 in 4 Australian women will seek an abortion in their lifetime
Work has begun on a discussion paper that will explore the introduction of such zones in Western Australia.
This discussion paper, being led by the Department of Health, will be released for public comment following the outcome of a High Court challenge on safe access zone laws in Victoria and Tasmania.
The High Court decision will need to be carefully considered before determining whether safe access zones can be implemented in WA, and in what particular form they may take.
The pledge comes on International Women’s Day
Women’s Interest Minister Simone McGurk said safe access zones are a vital step in ensuring that women can maintain their safety and wellbeing during what is a difficult time.
She said International Women’s Day is a time to acknowledge the rights of women to access procedures without undue distress
Health Minister Roger Cook added that all patients in Western Australia have a right to safety, privacy and respect when accessing healthcare.
“I can only imagine the distress a patient will experience when they arrive at a clinic to undergo a legal medical procedure and are confronted with a group of protestors,” he said.
“I am in favour of safe access zones and look forward to Western Australians having their say on the discussion paper when it is released in the coming months.”