“No film” call by abortion clinics


ABORTION clinics are calling for the state government to crack down on protesters who have started filming women as they enter and leave clinics.

Doctors who work at the East Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga clinics said protesters had been filming and photo-graphing patients in recent months while others continued their attempts to talk women out of terminations.

The protesters were also now taking babies and toddlers with them to protests.

Dr Susie Allanson from the East Melbourne clinic said patients were distressed by the practice and concerned about what the protesters were doing with the photos and footage of them.

“There’s no doubt that this is another way to intimidate women . . . It’s very threatening,” she said.

Dr Allanson said police responded to calls about the filming and photography but could not charge the protesters because it was not illegal.

Dr Kathy Lewis from Albury-Wodonga said the practice was also provoking women and their partners to respond, creating greater risk of conflict outside clinics.

The doctors called for the government to respond to the problem with protest exclusion zones or with laws that prohibit such harassment of patients and staff.

Tanya O’Brien, of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants group that regularly protests outside abortion clinics, admitted that members of her group were filming outside clinics but said it was for their own protection in case they were attacked or subjected to allegations of wrong-doing.

Last year, a Victorian Law Reform Commission report recommended that the state government introduce a new offence for improper use of a surveillance device because it was aware of a number of instances where cameras were being used to intimidate, demean and harass people, including outside abortion clinics.

It said it was not illegal to film or photograph people in public spaces and that there was no specific offence concerned with offensive use of surveillance devices.

“The commission is of the view that it is desirable to introduce a new offence that demonstrates clear community disapproval of the growing use of surveillance devices to intim-idate, demean or harass people . . .” said the report, Surveillance in Public Places: Final Report.

From: http://www.theage.com.au/national/no-film-call-by-abortion-clinics-20110...