But over the past six months the anti-abortion demonstrators
have employed a “shameful” new tactic in an attempt to dissuade
patients seeking abortions, abortion rights advocate Liz Marmo
told BuzzFeed News.
“They have been handing foetal dolls to patients as they enter
the clinic,” Marmo said.
“At first they would hide them in their hands and show the
patients so [the abortion rights advocates] couldn’t see what
they were doing, but now they’re open about it and have a woven
basket full of them.”
The abortion rights campaigners keep at a distance to respect
the privacy of women entering the clinic and see their role as
protecting the patients from harassment and “monitoring” the
behaviour of anti-abortion demonstrators.
“It brings tears to my eyes when I see these bigots approaching
these women,” Marmo said.
For three years the 54-year-old and five other women have
visited the clinic on Thursdays to “keep an eye” on protestors
and campaign for exclusion zones – where protestors are
prohibited outside clinics – in NSW.
“I have four granddaughters and one day they might possibly
have to use one of these clinics and I don’t want them going
through this,” Marmo said.
“[The anti-abortion protestors] are very careful now because
they know we are watching and the clinic has a security guard
now, so they usually approach the women and ask ‘can we pray
for you?’ and show or hand them a doll.”
Late last year the state followed Tasmania and the ACT and
passed legislation to establish safe access zones of 150 metres
around abortion clinics to “protect the safety and well-being
and respect the privacy and dignity of” patients and staff.
In August a
mother of 13 protesting outside a Melbourne clinic became the
first person arrested under the new laws.
“Victoria shows us this can work,” NSW Labor MP Penny Sharpe
told BuzzFeed News. “It is time for action in NSW.”
Sharpe has initiated a private member’s bill for safe-access
zones because the current law is failing women being approached
outside NSW clinics, she said.
“Women should have the right to access health services without
harassment, intimidation and this sort of outrageous
The majority of NSW residents (81%) support the enactment of
protest exclusion zones,
polling released by Faruqi found.