OPPONENTS are “not welcome” at a forum in Albury tonight focusing on efforts to ban protesters from outside an Albury abortion clinic.
Convenor Pieter Mourik was confident at least 200 supporters would attend the meeting at St Matthew’s Church.
That followed what he described as overwhelming support for a petition to rid Englehardt Street of protesters from the group the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.
Tonight’s forum initially had been planned as a strategy meeting to workshop ideas on how to bring about an end to protests outside the clinic.
But Dr Mourik said that had rapidly changed to a major public forum after more than 500 people signed the petition in Dean Street on Saturday.
Dr Mourik said the ultimate aim was to get Albury Council to review and change its bylaws to ban protests outside the clinic.
The forum will be chaired by fellow convenor Susie Reid.
“Susie will start off by saying ‘if you want to talk about the rights and wrongs of abortion, or the laws of abortion, leave now because this is not the forum’,” Dr Mourik said.
“We’re talking about women’s privacy in medical matters and the right of an individual to approach a medical business without harassment.”
Dr Mourik said he believed there was the political will in the council to review its bylaws to bring about such change.
“There’s at least six of them who will be putting their hands up for this,” he said.
“Some have already said so, but I think the others will hold their cards until the next council meeting.”
Dr Mourik said he had been told councillors were not supportive of the protesters.
“The mood of the community is that the majority want the council to stop the protesters by legitimate means, which is how it’s got to happen.
“We’re going to suggest — as we did three years ago — that the protesters go to QEII Square and have a very public demonstration.
“We support that and we’d respect them if they did that.”
Tonight’s meeting will begin at 6pm.