‘Safe zones’ around abortion clinics don’t threaten free speech, Victoria says

“Safe access zones” around abortion clinics do not breach Australians’ limited right to free speech because protesters are not engaged in public debate but rather targeting women for their medical choices, the Victorian government has said.

The Victorian government has made the submission to the high court, warning that without safe access zones some women who need abortion services will decide “to delay or not to seek those services at all”.

The high court is hearing two constitutional challenges against safe access zone laws in Victoria and Tasmania at the same time as a group of Labor and Nationals MPs in New South Wales begin a push for that state to introduce zones of 150m around abortion clinics, the same buffer that applies in Victoria

One high court case has been brought by religious picketer Kathy Clubb, the first person to be charged under Victoria’s laws. Clubb was fined $5,000 for approaching a couple in the safe zone outside an East Melbourne clinic in August 2016 and trying to hand them pamphlets.



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