Kate, a mother of 4 booked in for a surgical abortion at the only clinic in Albury, NSW back in 2011. The now 40-year-old says that she was a single mother dealing with a domestic violence situation, and she has been having radiation in her uterus for endometriosis.
“It wasn’t a hard decision because there was only one option for me … and it was the advice given to me by my gynaecologist and GP.” – says Kate.
She was at eight weeks gestation, but surgery was left as her only option because no pharmaceutical company had successfully applied to import and dispute the abortion drugs Mifepristone (RU486) and Misoprostol in Australia (until 2012).
Kate couldn’t afford at the time to travel to Sydney and Melbourne, so her only option was Albury.
Members of the Catholic Church-affiliated group named Helpers of God’s Precious Infants put up signs and pray outside Albury’s Fertility Control Clinic. Kate had seen the group before, and she was worried that she would have to get past them to enter the clinic.
“I was worried about them approaching me and about my reaction if they did so,” she said.
So, that day she brought a friend along for support. Around seven people were around, and they had signs with dead fetuses on them, prayer books and pamphlets – as she recalls. The protesters “circled” Kate and told her that she didn’t have to do this, and she would go to hell if she did.
“I felt like I had to explain myself and my medical situation to get past them and through to the clinic as they were right in the footpath leading up to the door,”
According to Kate, she told them about her medical situation, but the picketers told her that was “God’s will”. She eventually got hysterical and stepped sideways, when they just told her that they would pray for her.
Kate called the police later that day to make a complaint, but she was told that there was nothing they could do. They said that it wasn’t classed as abusive because she hadn’t been hit and no one has said anything abusive to her.
There are videos of patients walking into health clinics in NSW where the protesters have been asking them to reconsider the abortion. and the patients have been given plastic fetuses.
There have been many speeches in the parliamentary debate in the recent months over a legislation to enact safe-access zones around the clinics in NSW, and it would enact 150-meter zones in which the anti-abortion protesters would not be able to enter. If they get caught intimidating patients or staff, they could be fined and even jailed.
The bill will be voted on Thursday, as it successfully passed through the upper house of state’s parliament.