About 300 people rallied in Melbourne on November 24 to oppose the ongoing harassment of Fertility Control Clinic patients and staff by Christian fanatics.
The rally was organised by Melbourne Feminist Action (MFA), a new initiative campaigning for women's rights.
Even though Victorian women won the legal right to abortion in 2008, access remains difficult for many women. The clinic is picketed daily and anti-abortion crusaders march once a month after mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral to the clinic.
The Fertility Control Clinic has just marked its 40th anniversary. Founded by abortion law reformers Bertram and Jo Wainer, it was the first clinic in Australia to provide safe and affordable abortion, as well as other reproductive health services.
Speakers emphasised the need to protect Victoria's abortion laws which were won through a long battle and reminded protesters that women were not so lucky interstate. MFA co-convener and rally MC Stephanie Convey paid respect to Savita Halappanavar, a young woman who died on October 28 in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion on religious grounds.
The rally raised three key demands: that St Patrick's Cathedral to condemn the anti-choice harassment and refuse to support them, that the Federal government enact laws that legalise abortion across Australia, and that the Victorian government adequately fund abortion services across the state.
A small group of anti-choice fanatics turned up, which organisers put down to the MFA counter-mobilisation. The vibrant and noisy rally then marched to the City Square in Melbourne city.
[MFA will meet on November 29 at 6.30pm, at Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, to plan its next action. Visit the Facebook page.]