Pro-life advocates often experience hostility on the sidewalks outside abortion facilities as they try to help pregnant moms and their unborn babies.
Dr. Roland von Marburg, a medical doctor from New South Wales, Australia, and his wife, Anna, are among them. They frequently pray and reach out to women outside the Fertility Control Clinic abortion facility in Albury.
Last week, the pro-life couple reached a settlement agreement with a local abortion activist over a defamation lawsuit, according to BuzzFeed News. Abortion activist and Albury doctor Pieter Mourik (pictured) agreed to pay the von Marburgs $180,000 in damages, the report states.
The dispute began in 2014 when the von Marburgs attended a pro-life vigil outside the Albury abortion clinic, court documents state. Someone took a photo of Dr. von Marburg and posted it to the Facebook page of the pro-abortion group Right to Privacy Albury, according to the documents. Mourik is a spokesperson for the pro-abortion group.
The couple said abortion activists posted comments defaming Dr. von Marburg under the photo. One described him as a “butcher” and another said, “Careful with those rosary beads Roland, wouldn’t want to accidently [sic] snort them up with your cocaine.”
The von Marburgs sued, alleging defamation, and the two parties finally reached a settlement last week. After the settlement agreement, Mourik posted an apology on the Facebook page.
“I acknowledge my actions encouraged other people to engage in a ‘name and shame’ campaign substantially directed at damaging the professional and personal reputations of Dr Roland von Marburg and Anna von Marburg,” he wrote.
“This aggravated matters further. As a spokesperson for Rights to Privacy Albury, I had an administrative role in the conduct of the Facebook page at the relevant time,” Mourik continued. “I should have removed the untrue and offensive comments about the von Marburgs when initially requested to do so.”
The von Marburgs also released a statement after the settlement, saying they hope the matter will lead to more dignified debates about abortion in the future.
“Anna and Dr Roland von Marburg are passionate about offering help to mothers and their unborn babies in their community… [and] sincerely hope that this case and its outcome will remind us all that we need to restore dignified debate, dignified discourse, and a love for the dignity of all human life,” they said in the statement.
There is a lot of tension between pro-life advocates and abortion activists in Albury. According to the report, abortion activists with Mourik’s group have been lobbying for a buffer zone to keep pro-life advocates like the von Marburgs away from local abortion facilities.