The Media and Safe Access Zone legislation

The thing about Safe Access Zone legislation is that it seems so reasonable. After all, state after state has introduced it. And after all, mothers do deserve to be protected, right? The idea is that a 150 metre zone should be established around abortion mills, so that mothers can be protected from the awful people who stand there praying, who are believed to be intimidating, harassing, placard-waving zealots bent on condemnation.

Misinformation and misunderstanding can go a long way. The general public has become so used to the concept of protecting mothers that it has forgotten that abortion is the true evil. The campaign has been very clever, and it has been aided by politicians who simply state things under parliamentary privilege, and abetted by a compliant media who never bother to find out what is actually happening. Politicians are not known for attending prayer lines.

The pro-lifers have regularly turned the other cheek, but at the same time they have never given up. They are ready to help any mother and any baby they can, regardless of the abuse they endure. In Western Australia they have prayed outside the two main abortion mills in Perth – Nanyara in Rivervale and Marie Stopes in Midland. Pro-lifers also write letters to the media, lobby politicians, visit churches, are active in social media, address groups and give speeches, and offer voluntary help to the various organisations that exist to provide alternatives to abortion. There are pro-life organisations that offer aid, protection, training, clothing, money, food, counselling, shelter, faith, friendship and medical assistance – all free of charge.

Contrast that with what so many journalists assert. In the Sunday Times on 15 November 2020, Jenna Clarke argued that our prayer vigils were stunts and it was insulting to women that safe access zones were not already in place. Now, it is not as though those of us who stand for life haven’t copped abuse before. And we are prepared to live with it if it will save the lives of even some of the children who are intended to be killed in their mothers’ wombs. And we are prepared to live with it if it means we can help stop even some mums from living a life of regret. There is no getting away from what happens at an abortion clinic. Children are killed for money, and no excuse in the world, no argument about respect, no changes in the law and certainly no false accusations are ever going to make that okay.

So it would have been refreshing if Jenna Clarke had taken her job as a journalist more seriously. It would have been a credit to her if she had at least made a pretence of getting some of the facts right. It was wrong of Clarke to write that the vigils are stunts. They have been going on for more than twenty years, which is rather long if they are only stunts. It was wrong of her to state we give unsolicited advice. We work under police permits, and under the terms of which we are not allowed to talk to people unless they approach us first. So there is nothing unsolicited about it.

Clarke sees abortion as a health issue. It certainly is not for the child who dies. It is certainly not for the mums who often have a lifetime of mental health issues as a result of their abortion. It is certainly not for those who develop breast cancer as a result of having an abortion.

Clarke also stated we use low resolution images of zygotes, yet the file photo she used showed a new-born. Then she commented about women being unable to support themselves financially when they find themselves pregnant – when there is plenty of help available in Perth. The claim is made that women aren’t pressured into abortions. Apparently, she has never met a coercive male.

Some simple research would have given her an opportunity to hear some truth. And who knows what she might have written then. It is a pity she didn’t give us a call before she put pen to paper.

  • Steve Klomp, President, Right to Life Association of Western Australia