The Western Australian Government has today legislated safe access zones to protect patients and staff accessing sexual and reproductive health services .
The passage of Public Health Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2021 means women and pregnant people in every state and territory are now protected against intimidation and harassment when accessing abortion services.
Each year picketers spend approximately 2,295 hours outside the Marie Stopes Midland Clinic in WA, undermining community trust, feelings of safety, breaching privacy.
It is crucial that when people access healthcare they not only feel safe but that their privacy is respected and protected.
Safe access zones prevent picketing within 150 metres of abortion care clinics and apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Marie Stopes Australia is grateful the WA government has kept its commitment to legislate safe access zones.
Quotes from Leigh Keane, Nurse Unit Manager, Marie Stopes Midland Clinic:
“The passage of these laws is such a relief.
“Patients can now safely come in without being judged and without being intimidated out the front of the clinic.
“It gives them clear access to the healthcare that they've decided that they want or need, depending on their circumstances, and they are no longer being influenced by outside people on the day, minutes before they walk through.
“It also provides safety to staff, and even to our neighbours, who have to witness the behaviour week after week. Our whole community was being affected."
Jamal Hakim, Managing Director, Marie Stopes Australia:
"This is a momentous day for human rights in Australia, with safe access zones now legislated in every state and territory in Australia.
“No one should fear being intimidated or harassed when accessing abortion and reproductive health services.
“Unfortunately there is a lot of underlying stigma around abortion rights and access and this is a significant step in recognising the distress of women and staff when accessing a clinic.
“We’re grateful the WA government has kept its commitment to legislate safe access zones and that it will be illegal for picketers to harass staff.
“Next, we want to work with the government to increase access to abortion care in Western Australia. Currently, the criminal code still regulates abortion and there are significant outdated hurdles in accessing abortion care which still need to be addressed.”
– Ends –
For further information contact Anna Jabour, Marie Stopes Australia, 0428 396 391.
Marie Stopes Australia is a national not for profit 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.