Protect Abortion Services from Harassment
Abortion is safe, routine, legal health care in New Zealand. But it is not treated like other kinds of health care, because anti-abortion busybodies are allowed to harass people who receive abortion care, and those who provide it.
A safe area is a designated space around an abortion service where anti-abortion activists are not allowed to harass people. They are often measured based on a radius from the door of the facility. The maximum radius would be 150 meters. Outside that area anti-abortion protesters are free to do as they like - but inside the safe areas they cannot target people trying to mind their own business.
The abortion law reform bill last year passed without safe areas, because of a procedural error. This needs to be rectified so that people can go to their medical appointments without being bullied and abused.
But the process the amendment bill sets out for creating a safe area is needlessly complicated.
The process in the bill to get just ONE safe area requires an Order in Council on the recommendation of Cabinet's busiest minister (the Minister of Health) in consultation with Cabinet's second busiest minister (the Minister of Justice).
Realistically, how many times is THAT going to happen? How many people have to suffer abuse and intimidation before a safe area is granted? Shouldn't the law prevent harm in the first place?
We want everyone who needs abortion care to feel safe going to their medical appointments. We want everyone who provides abortion care to feel safe at their jobs. We want safe areas to be established around every place where abortion is provided from assent.
The select committee can help make that happen by recommending a change to the bill, if we tell them that is what the people of New Zealand want. Let's tell them loud and clear.
And then we need to make sure the bill passes!