Victorian abortion protest laws fast tracked

Issue 
It is now illegal in Victoria for protesters to harass people within 150-metres of abortion providers.

The Victorian law making it illegal for protesters to harass people within 150-metres of abortion providers, which were due to start in July, came into effect on May 2.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said: "For too long, women accessing abortion services have been unfairly abused and intimidated, and it's time it stopped. That's why we've fast-tracked the introduction of safe access zones so we can give women the protection they deserve, sooner."

For the first time in 25 years, the anti-abortion protesters who have picketed the Wellington Parade abortion clinic six days a week were absent and women were able to enter the building without first being forced to run the gauntlet.

The clinic's Dr Susie Allanson said: "Today has been delightfully uneventful."

She said protesters from the Helpers of God's Precious Infants have followed, threatened and intimidated women and their partners outside the clinic. She said the group, who carry pamphlets and graphic images of dismembered foetuses, had also in the past verbally abused, stalked and intimidated her staff.

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