LEADING women’s rights advocates will address a medical privacy forum in Albury this month to discuss protests outside the city’s abortion clinic.
Albury Rights to Privacy group spokesman Pieter Mourik said while all were welcome at the January 14 forum, anti-abortionists would not be allowed to “hijack” it.
The aim of the forum, to be chaired by former Victorian health services commissioner Dr Beth Wilson, was to find a way to stop protesters targeting women using NSW clinics such as the one in Englehardt Street.
Organisers hoped a debate on “the importance” of medical privacy would encourage MPs to consider the issue in the lead-up to the March NSW election.
Tasmanian Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne and NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi will also speak.
Dr Mourik said NSW abortion laws were based on a 1865 British law.
He said the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania had removed abortion from the criminal code.
He said Tasmania had done it well with three MPs from both major parties agreeing to changes and Dr Faruqi wanted the same approach.
“They propose to reform abortion law in NSW to bring it up to the 21st century,” Dr Mourik said.
“That would also include exclusion zones.
“Our petition was about getting (Albury MP) Greg Aplin to put to Parliament that an exclusion zone is important for Albury.”
Women’s Health NSW chief Denele Crozier will also attend.
“Michelle O’Byrne can advise Mehreen and NSW politicians on how to do it correctly, because they were the leaders, the first ones to have an exclusion zone,” Dr Mourik said.
He was also seeking more notable speakers.
“I would also like the patient’s perspective, someone to talk about how they felt coming to the clinic,” he said.
Dr Mourik said he would not invite the protesters because “they are not interested in women’s privacy”.
“They believe protection of the baby’s life is worth invading people’s privacy over,” he said.
Dr Mourik said Dr Wilson — who retired as commissioner in 2012 after 15 years in the role — had been warned protesters might still try to have their say.
To prevent this, security guards would be employed to eject anyone disrupting the event.
The forum will be held in the Commercial Club’s Waratah Room from 6pm.
Dr Mourik said the calibre of speakers would attract the attention of the state’s politicians.
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