Roger Cook introduced the so-called Safe Access Zones bill into parliament last night. The proposed Bill will prevent anyone from engaging in 'prohibited behaviour', including intimidating or harassing or obstructing anyone trying to enter or exit an abortion clinic. It also prevents any form of communication that is likely to be heard and might cause offence or anxiety. The safe access zone law puts a 150 metre prohibited zone around premises where abortions are carried out. Because of the streetscape and location, the legislation would effectively stop prayer vigils altogether, except perhaps at Parliament House.
Interestingly, the proposal does not specifically prohibit praying outside an abortion clinic, but presumably the prayers would have to be completely silent. If you breach the proposed legislation you can be fined $12000 or go to gaol for a year. By contrast, if you break into a farm and steal a pig as a protest designed to save the swine's life you will get a slap on the wrist.
Whilst the bill was introduced by Cook and supported by Simone McGurk (ironically the Minister for Child Protection) last night it is unlikely to pass before about April next year because of 18 urgent pieces of legislation ahead of it and of course, the State election on March 13 next year.
The bill's introduction was preceded by a community response period. Apparently 70% of all respondents were in favour of the bill.
The Right to Life Association of WA (incorporating 40 Days for Life) has been expecting this legislation, as it has passed in all other states except South Australia. Amazingly, the proponents of the bill such as Cook and McGurk and others have accepted at face value the support submissions they have received. To my knowledge, they have never been down to the clinics (for any length of time) to see our prayer vigils, and we have been doing this work for more than twenty years.
Amazingly, they are supporting the organisation that profits so handsomely from performing abortions (then again, the State government did give them money to expand their business a few years ago) whilst at the same time abandoning the women we help every year.
Most incredibly of all, no harrassment or intimidation or bullying or obstruction actually occurs anyway. We are a peaceful prayer vigil and we don't even speak to people unless they approach us first. And no member of the prayer vigil has ever been arrested for inappropriate behaviour despite many unfounded complaints to Police by the abortionists, and despite their video cameras recording our presence.
On average we save five babies every Lent campaign, and comfort many women who, upon leaving the clinic after their abortion suddenly realise what they have done. We comfort many women who wanted to keep their child but for cultural or familial reasons were forced to undergo the procedure. We counsel many men who feel powerless to save their baby. And yes, our prayer vigils do lower the profits the abortionists make.
Somewhere between 8000 and 10,000 children die by abortion each year in Western Australia. It is the world's leading cause of death. That is a lot of lives to answer for, isn't it?