Dubbo MP Troy Grant opposes abortion safe access zone laws

Dubbo MP Troy Grant opposed the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics), while Premier Gladys Berejiklian supported the bill. Photo: ADAM MCLEAN
Dubbo MP Troy Grant opposed the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics), while Premier Gladys Berejiklian supported the bill. Photo: ADAM MCLEAN

Laws making it illegal to communicate, film or intimidate a woman near an abortion clinic have been passed by the NSW Parliament.

The legislation – opposed by Dubbo MP Troy Grant – passed the lower house by 61 votes to 18 after hours of debate on Thursday night.

Minister for Women Tanya Davies and Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence Pru Goward also opposed the bill.

The laws, which passed the upper house in May, will provide a 150-metre exclusion zone around clinics and make it an offence to film staff and patients without their consent.

Barwon MP Kevin Humphries supported the legislation, as did a host of other government MPs in a debate that transcended partisan politics.

Country Women’s Association of NSW president Annette Turner had commended the bill to the upper house.

She said it was a win for the CWA movement; a motion for exclusion zones was passed at the organisation’s state conference in 2016.

“It’s just about women having the freedom of being able to walk in there without any harassment,” she said.

“It’s a great thing for the branch that put the motion forward … I was pleased their hard efforts weren rewarded.”

Nationals leader John Barilaro told Parliament of the fear and anxiety he experienced when he visited an abortion clinic with a young woman 27 years ago.

“When you actually attend you're scared, the fear is already inside you,” he said.

He said he did not want his daughters to be accosted by protesters if they ever needed to attend a clinic.

Ms Davies said the laws didn't distinguish between sharing information and harassment.

“I believe the bill will be counterproductive to the object of women having choice by denying support and informed choice to vulnerable women when they need it the most,” she said.

“I believe the penalties imposed by the bill are excessive, disproportionate and out of step with comparative legislation in NSW.”

Ms Goward labelled the bill an attack on freedom of speech, saying “my position I know will please no one, but it is the position of my conscience”.

Mr Grant was unavailable for comment.

Mr Humphries’ office was also contacted for comment, but did not respond before deadline.