An Australian court recently upheld the conviction of a pro-life woman who was arrested for displaying graphic images of an aborted baby outside an Melbourne abortion facility in 2013.
Pro-life sidewalk counselor Michelle Fraser was arrested outside the East Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic in 2013 and charged with “displaying an obscene figure in a public place,” according to BuzzFeed News. Her signs showed the photo of an aborted baby’s bloody, mangled hand and head resting against a coin. Fraser later was convicted and fined $600.
Fraser appealed her case to the Victorian Supreme Court but lost on March 21 when the high court upheld the conviction, according to the report.
In the decision, Judge Karin Emerton said the images were so horrific that people should not be exposed to them unwittingly.
“They are images which, according to accepted community standards, are of such horror or such a disgusting nature that people ought not to be unwittingly exposed to them while going about their everyday business, or be obliged to take steps to avoid them,” Emerton said.
Emerton said the images of aborted babies also could be distressing and potentially harmful to children and others.
Martin Iles of the Australian Christian Lobby, a pro-life group involved in the case, said the images of aborted babies should be protected under the Australian constitution because they inform voters about political matters.
“Sometimes the raw truth is the strongest political communication we can make, regardless of how shocking it is,” Iles wrote on the ACL blog on March 29. “Indeed, often it is in the very act of exposing horror that action is precipitated.
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“A young boy holding up the severed head of a Syrian soldier brought the evil of ISIS to the world. It adorned newspaper front-pages and prime time news bulletins across the nation,” Iles continued.
Iles said the court’s decision is far-reaching, and they are considering an appeal.
“One might have sympathy if the decision was limited in scope to say, banning the images from school zones or shopping centres,” he wrote. “But ‘public place’ is defined so broadly that it includes much of the state of Victoria – even a church service!”
Hostility against pro-lifers is growing in Australia. Late last year, the Australian Christian Lobby headquarters was car bombed in what pro-lifers believe was a targeted attack. BuzzFeed, a liberal website, did not mention the attack in its report.
A few days before Christmas, Australian Capital Territory Police said a 35-year-old man parked a van filled with bottles of gas right outside the Australia Christian Lobby headquarters in Canberra and lit them, causing an explosion that damaged the building and destroyed the vehicle.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton told ABC that no one was in the building when the explosion occurred. He said the ground floor windows were blown out, and the van tires melted into the concrete outside the building.
Police said it was a random suicide attempt, but the pro-life group and other individuals believe it was a targeted attack, according to The Daily Telegraph. A woman who was working late at a nearby law firm said she saw two men and a “suspicious” vehicle near the pro-life group’s headquarters when the explosion went off.