A LAVINGTON woman is pleading with protesters to abandon their vigil outside the Albury abortion clinic, and leave patients like herself alone.
Zoe, 26, says she felt intimidated when faced by members of pro-life group Helpers of God’s Precious Infants outside the Englehardt Street clinic, and that one told her she would “go to hell” if she went inside.
Another tried to photograph her as she and her boyfriend left after procedure, she said.
A spokeswoman for the Helpers, Peta Evans, yesterday denied the claims, saying that they “couldn’t be true”.
Zoe (not her real name) says the protesters’ presence made what was “already a really horrible experience even worse”.
“They can still have their beliefs — I don’t care what they believe — but please, just go away and leave the people alone who are already struggling enough,” she said.
“It really is such an emotional time... if someone is walking in there, you’re not helping them.
“You don’t know their story and what you want isn’t necessarily best for them.”
Zoe had an abortion in March.
Still struggling to cope after being raped last year, she and her partner of four years decided they could not have their child at this time.
While there was “never any question” about having the abortion, Zoe said the rape had left her anxious about being under anaesthetic.
She says as she walked into the clinic there were about 10 protesters across the street and two in front of the clinic.
A male protester told her: “Babies get killed in there. Do you know you’re going to burn in hell if you do this?”
“The fact he said something so horrible at such a stressful time, nobody needs to hear that,” she said.
“I just don’t see how they can see that as helping someone.”
Zoe said while the man’s manner was not threatening or aggressive, it was intimidating and added to her anxiety.
Mrs Evans declined to answer specific questions from The Border Mail but denied Zoe’s claims.
“There have been unsubstantiated, false and usually anonymous claims made against the Helpers before and I believe this will be more of the same,” she said.
“The helpers do not intimidate people but rather offer real help to those accessing the clinic.
“If people have complaints, they should take them to the police for them to be investigated properly.”
Zoe said she had not made a formal complaint as she didn’t think the incident was necessarily illegal, nor did she want to face more dealings with police after the rape — the group’s presence was intimidating enough.
“Even if they stood on the other side of the road and held up rosary beads and said a prayer, or they were just standing there staring at me, it’s still during a stressful thing,” she said.
“I really don’t need people staring at me while I’m trying to get through it.
“Good on them for having an opinion and being strong about it, but go and tell it at a church or have a rally somewhere.
“If someone wants to listen to you they will go, you don’t have to shove it in people’s faces.”