Starting Tuesday, Australian pro-lifers will be banned from standing within 50 feet of abortion clinics in its capital city of Canberra.
The nation’s Legislative Assembly passed the restrictive ban, dubbed the ACT laws, last October, The Canberra Times reports. The 50-foot buffer zone will affect the Civic’s Dr Marie abortion clinic on Moore Street, making it illegal to protest there between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on week days, according to the report. Pro-lifers who violate the law could face hefty fines, the report states.
Pro-lifers have been praying at the abortion clinic more more than 17 years, according to the report. Leading up to the enforcement of the ban on Tuesday, large crowds of pro-lifers have been gathering to pray and peacefully witness for life, many of them with 40 Days for Life.
Bev Cains, president of ACT Right to Life, told the newspaper they may move to churches to pray once the buffer zone is enforced.
Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, a pro-life group that focuses on prayer efforts and sidewalk counseling to reach those seeking abortion, has members who pray outside Canberra abortion clinics.
On the group’s website, they describe their organization’s mission like this: The sidewalk counselors educate her about the baby’s biological development in her womb, and help her to understand the exact manner in which the abortion will kill her child. They will also warn her of the physical harm the abortion may cause to her own body. The woman will be provided with literature telling of all the help available: financial, medical, and spiritual.”
Australia Attorney General Simon Corbell joined abortion activists in celebrating the restrictive law.
“This new protest-free zone is about ensuring that women, who have made what is already a difficult decision to have an abortion, can access the medical services they require without being forced to endure the judgment of others,” Corbell said.
Last June, an abortion clinic in Melbourne also tried to force pro-lifers off the sidewalks. Apparently the abortion facility wanted the city council to issue protesters prohibition notices or create “buffer zones,” as was done in the United States but later overturned by the Supreme Court. However, the city council told the abortion clinic to take up the matter with the Victoria Police.
Abortion activists tried to force similar bans in various cities and states in the U.S.; however as LifeNews previously reported, in 2013, the Supreme Court decided in an unanimous decision that buffer zones were “inconsistent with the First Amendment” because they “restrict access” to “public way[s] and sidewalk[s],” places that have traditionally been open for speech activities.