LOITERING laws should be explored to tackle those who rally outside Albury’s abortion clinic, a Greens council candidate believes.
Amanda Cohn believes the Albury Council needs to “use any legal means available to protect patients attending the clinic”.
Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi has an abortion law reform bill before the NSW Parliament which proposes “exclusion zones” be created within 150 metres of abortion clinics.
Under her bill it would be an offence to “beset, harass, intimidate, interfere with, impede, obstruct or threaten, by any means” those entering or leaving clinics.
It would also be unlawful, without permission, to photograph, film or record those attending abortion clinics.
Dr Cohn hopes the bill will pass Parliament but if it fails and she is elected she would want the council to consider move-on regulations.
“I’d like to see a no-loitering zone, but I’m not clear on the details of that legally,” Dr Cohn said.
“It’s something I would have to research, but I would like to see them exhaust every possibility with this.”
Dr Cohn said protecting clinic patients was a “huge issue for health professionals and women all over town”.
“We had a rally earlier this year with over 200 people urging (Albury MLA) Greg Aplin to do something,” she said.
“There is huge community willpower for something to be done.”
Albury surgeon Roland von Marburg, who backs weekly vigils at the city’s abortion clinic, thinks exclusion zones are unnecessary.
“The aim of people gathering locally has been to offer women a final opportunity to make sure they have received all the advice they need,” Dr von Marburg said.
“Nobody has been yelling at women, nobody has been calling them names, nobody has been assaulting them and all of those things are currently illegal in NSW.”
Dr von Marburg also believed abortion decriminalisation clauses in Dr Faruqi’s bill would see patients legally unprotected against mistreatment by abortionists.
“If it’s decriminalised it will mean that they (doctors) can’t face any criminal prosecution under any circumstances which is not the case for any other doctor,” he said.
“If you remove a mole from someone’s back and something goes wrong you’re subject to criminal law.
“We are all under the umbrella of criminal law and we can’t claim immunity…..(but this) gives the community no safeguards whatsoever.”