As part of an effort to learn more about how abortions take place, I recently spent a few mornings observing the ins and outs of an abortion clinic. On the whole I found the experience to be an incredibly positive one. The staff were kind and respectful, and the procedure was straight forward and far from horrifying. Seeing the relief on the majority of the patient’s faces was an additional plus.
The only downside was the pro-life protesters: they managed to get my blood boiling.
I think freedom of speech is a wonderful thing until it begins to encroach on the freedoms and rights of others. Sitting in the staff room at morning tea, I watched as women were forced to walk past a group of mainly older men wielding large pro-life signs. Even with the window closed, I couldn’t help but hear their loud singing and Hail Marys directed at pictures of fetuses. Even if a woman is completely comfortable with her decision, having an abortion can still be an emotionally fraught process. The last thing they deserve during this difficult time is harassment and intimidation.
So a big congratulations to Fiona Patten, Jill Hennessy and the entire state of Victoria. Well done for passing progressive legislation that prevents protesters coming within 150 metres of abortion clinics and GP practices that prescribe abortion medications. Considering that one in three Australian women will have an abortion at sometime in her life, this is a massive win for women. With a precedent now in place, hopefully the other states won’t take too long to follow suit.
For those interested in reading more about pro-life campaigners and abortion, here’s an excellent piece by Jill Hennessy in The Age:
This piece by Jenna Price about how medical schools are failing to teach doctors about abortions also makes for interesting reading: