Western Australia (WA) passed another milestone in working towards safe access to abortion care. Yesterday the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2021 was passed in the WA Legislative Assembly (lower house).
WA will be the last jurisdiction in Australia to legislate safe access zones.
Safe access zones prevent picketing within 150 metres of abortion care clinics. When it comes to accessing health services, it is of critical importance that people not only feel safe but that their privacy is respected and protected.
Each year picketers spend approximately 2,295 hours outside the Marie Stopes Australia Midland Clinic. Picketers can undermine community trust and feelings of safety, as well as breach privacy.
Last year Marie Stopes Australia published a Legislative Scan on safe access zones, in collaboration with the University of Queensland and the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance. The paper provides recommendations on key aspects of safe access zone legislation in Western Australia including size, definitions of prohibited behaviour, premises that are covered by the zones and exemptions.
The next move is for the Bill to be introduced to the WA Legislative Council (upper house), which is expected in coming months.
Marie Stopes Australia is appreciative of the McGowan Government’s support for sexual and reproductive health access and equity. We will continue to work in partnership to ensure safe access to healthcare for all Western Australians.
Quotes from Jamal Hakim, Managing Director, Marie Stopes Australia:
“The Bill includes reforms that will protect people’s right to access healthcare services safely, with their privacy protected and respected.”
“Everyone has a right to access their workplace without being intimidated and harassed.”
“In other states and territories where safe access zones exist, they have made a huge, positive impact on the safety and privacy of clients and staff.”
“We are grateful for the McGowan Government’s support of safe access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.”
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For further information or to interview Jamal Hakim contact 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.