There have been two victories today:
- one for the women of Victoria;
- the other for lovers of gelato in Melbourne and Sydney.
I may be skating on very thin ice here, as some will see the conflation of these two stories flippant, even disrespectful, but I concluded there was a very logical reason to combine the two, and not just on a geographical basis.
Whether to have an abortion, or not, is a very private matter. Once a woman, in consultation with her chosen medical professional, decided that it is the best option for her to have an abortion, the relevant procedure becomes a medical matter, regardless of the amount of religious moral objections thrown at the subject.
It’s no one’s business other than the woman who’s pregnant, her medical advisor, and any other people the woman herself wishes to involve in the matter. Full stop. Her body, her right.
For some time now this right has been challenged in Victoria by a fringe group of conservative religious protesters interfering with patients at the East Melbourne Day Procedure Centre.
In 2001 a security guard was shoot at the Centre. The perpetrator of the crime, Peter James Knight, was an unstable anti-abortion activist. If he wasn’t restrained by two brave men at the premises, the death toll could have been worse.
Prior to the crime, Mr Knight visited Right to Life Australia and reportedly spoke to president Margaret Tighe through a security door and complained to her about pregnancy termination clinic ads appearing in the Yellow Pages. Ms Tighe later said he did not express violent intentions, and she didn’t engage him beyond telling him she would have to put his idea to their committee.
After suffering decades of protests, and increasing interference with patients, the Centre recently attempted to force the Melbourne City Council to protect its patients from anti-abortion protesters, but failed because there were no legal grounds for the Supreme Court of Victoria to compel the Council to do so.
Right to Life Australia celebrated the outcome.
They celebrated too soon.
In response to the action of the anti-abortion protesters, and the lack of legal protections available to the Centre and its patients, Sex Party MP Fiona Patten introduced the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zone) Bill 2015 into the Victorian State Parliament in August to enforce a 150 metres buffer zone around abortion clinics, with penalties including fines or imprisonment for repeat offenders.
For more than 20 years, extremists who oppose contraception and abortion have beset the Fertility Control Clinic in east Melbourne every day. Helpers of God’s Precious Infants seek to coerce women arriving to see their doctor for abortion, pap tests, contraception and other vital healthcare.
Women are followed alighting trams and cars. Strangers get in women’s faces and spaces; they call them “child murderers”, and threaten dire and ill-founded medical, spiritual and psychological consequences. Displays are graphic and offensive: dismembered fetuses and comparisons to the Holocaust, lynching, slaughterhouse and sin.
Women and their companions may be shoved, their entry to the clinic blocked. A four-year-old child was once targeted: “Your mummy is going to kill your baby brother or sister.”
Understandably, patients and their families can be seriously affected. They might enter the clinic frightened, teary and angry. Heightened emotional distress can cause additional, unnecessary physical pain with medical treatments. Some women suffer long-term distress. Some delay urgent medical care or follow-up.
This is not a benign, peaceful protest. Police have secured convictions for threats to kill, obscenity, assault and murder. Clinic security guard Steve Rogers was fatally shot in 2001.
Safe access to abortion clinics must be guaranteed by law, The Age (10 November 2015)
The Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission supported the Centre before the Supreme Court, and public opinion both in Victoria and nationally has long supported women’s right to an abortion.
Before long the Bill received support from the Victorian Government which then introduced its own Bill based largely on Fiona Patten’s Bill.
Today that Bill had passed its final hurdle in the Victorian Senate.
This means the women of Victoria will now have a buffer zone, and protection, from anti-abortion protesters, and won’t have to put up with religious zealots while dealing with a very difficult personal decision.
In another victory for the common people, and overwhelming public demand, Gelato Messina, arguably the producer of Australia’s finest gelato, certainly the gelato of my choice, announced that from today its gelato is available for home delivery through Suppertime, both in Melbourne and Sydney.
The beauty of Suppertime is that, unlike most food delivery outfits, they also deliver at lunch time. Suppertime generally operates its delivery service from around 12.15pm to 2.15pm and then from 5pm to 10.30pm.
Suppertime will not just deliver Messina gelato, both the usual flavours and daily specials, but also most of its gelato cake offerings.
I suspect there will be a few Messina gelato lunch parties at my office …
So, mark 27 November 2015 in your calendars as a day of victory, not just for the women of Victoria, but also for the gelato lovers of Melbourne and Sydney.
If you are bitterly disappointed by the progressive values of the 21st century liberal, secular democracy you are living in, affording women control over their bodies and reproductive rights, and ignoring your archaic beliefs, at least you can order some gelato to be home delivered to soften and sweeten the blow … and to keep you off the streets.