Exclusion zone proposals show fundamental misunderstanding of freedom

candelight-vigil-abortionRecent proposals from the Greens in the ACT show just how little the party understands about human rights.

The sole Greens member of the Legislative Assembly, David Rattenbury, called for “exclusion zones” around Canberran abortion clinics, in order to thwart those that would protest.

The approach of the ACT Greens is a concerning restriction on peaceful activities. The proposal would emulate Tasmania’s Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Act 2013, which criminalises protests which are able to be seen or heard by a person within a 150 metre “access zone”.

It mirrors 100 metre exclusion zones proposals from the Australian Sex Party in Victoria, earlier this year. Both the Greens and the Sex Party seem to believe that even conduct involving praying quietly and lighting candles should be prohibited. Up to 150 metres away.

Rattenbury illustrated this when he said:

This is not a freedom-of-speech issue; this is an issue of safe and accessible healthcare.

Women have the legal right to medical privacy and the human right to make choices about their own health without interference or harassment.

The anti-free speech attitude is shared by Women’s Centre for Health Matters health promotion officer Angela Carnovale, who said that protesters rights to protest should not infringe on the spurious right to “accessible healthcare” by “pursuing conversations in other forums where those conversations can be had”.

Unfortunately, Carnovale was not so generous as to suggest which locations the government should authorise for the holding of such conversations.

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