Doctor wearing scrubs crouching down and looking tired

As State recovers from COVID-19, the picketers restart

Sigrid Firth Advocacy, Equity and access, Media, Safe access

MEDIA STATEMENT

Permits have been granted for anti-choice groups to restart their weekly picketing outside Marie Stopes Australia’s Midland clinic from today.

The anti-choice groups had their permits cancelled towards the end of March as part of the public health response to COVID-19. Despite this, picketers showed up at the clinic on 27 March and WA Police were called.

As the State recovers from COVID-19, the picketers have re-emerged and will start their weekly Friday gatherings.

 “For anyone working in healthcare, the last few months have been particularly difficult”, Marie Stopes Midland Nurse Unit Manager, Leigh Keane said.

 “Abortion care has been deemed an essential service by the Western Australian Government, so we continued to provide this care throughout COVID-19 in often challenging circumstances.”

 The clinic has put in place physical distancing and other measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 including limiting the number of people allowed into the clinic.

 “Like many West Australians, our team have had a challenging time during this pandemic. What has helped is the ability to maintain these services safely and securely without the weekly picketers upsetting clients and staff”, Ms Keane said.

 Marie Stopes Australia’s Spokesperson for the Western Australia safe access zones campaign, Jacquie O’Brien, said that staff and picketers have no understanding of the harm they cause, particularly as the State recovers from COVID-19.

 “Our communities have felt high anxiety over the past few months. Accessing medical services has been challenging for many people because of this anxiety.

 “Right now the last thing you want to see when you are entering your work place or accessing a sensitive health service is a group of strangers who are there with the sole purpose of judging you”, Ms O’Brien said.

 “These picketers do more harm than they realise. Their presence is intimidating and stressful for clients and staff. Right now, that harm is magnified, particularly for our health care workers.”

 Marie Stopes Australia Managing Director, Jamal Hakim said “The actions of those picketers who showed up when their permits were cancelled was utterly irresponsible. To be back again so soon shows a lack of any consideration for the public goodwill during what is unprecedented circumstances in our lifetimes.”

 Marie Stopes Australia supports the Western Australia Government’s moves to legislate for safe access zones across the State.

– Ends –

 Marie Stopes Australia is a national profit for purpose provider of sexual and reproductive health services including permanent and long-acting reversible contraception and abortion care.

 For more information on our clinic network visit mariestopes.org.au

 Media contact: Jacquie O’Brien 0428 396 391