A response to Sharri Markson – Daily Telegraph 23/3/2018

Read opinion transcript at the bottom of this page

Markson begins her article with an appeal to the sense of justice which should be upheld by any right thinking person or society. That women should not be abused, harassed or threatened. We agree on that. However she goes on to link the defence of the one area in modern society that escapes scrutiny on that very principle, abortion, especially given the level of coercion involved on women to undergo this abhorrent procedure, to promote protections for it based on outrageous lies which are easily refuted.

Markson has the temerity to associate the Islamist terror campaigns to this lie, prejudicially and completely for dramatical effect only, as it is unrelated in any way to this topic. Recent high profile cases of footballers in Australia forcing their partners to undergo abortions as well as scores of well documented cases of such behaviour seem to have escaped Markson’s recall. Coercion around abortion (pressuring women to have an abortion) even featured last year on an SBS program with Jennifer Brockie. How is it that this journalist missed this point?

She points out that when a woman is considering an abortion that she’s “most tender and unguarded.” How about when a woman is pregnant she’s at her most tender and vulnerable. We agree again and she is looking to the usual family structures around her for support through the pregnancy, her husband, boyfriend, mother and father especially. Its when this support is lacking and instead is urging her to “choose” abortion that the coercion exists. Often its just the lack of support for her pregnancy itself, or its the other end of the scale, threats of violence if she doesn’t “choose” abortion. I’ve had thousands of women tell me this themselves as they explain to me “I have no choice!”

The rest of the Markson article is basically a series of lies. Why if there is sufficient evidence of an injustice occurring is there a need to lie? If there is no evidence I would have thought an experienced journalist would investigate. No one has spoken to me and I am not only one of those who prays and offers support to women outside of an abortion mill regularly, but others who do so, come to me for advice and support. In fact it would be fair to say that I know of every location around NSW where these events are happening and that I have spoken to and advised all those who engage in this front line support.

Why wasn’t I asked to be interviewed and the other side of the argument given voice? Because the Markson article isn’t about the facts, but purely about propaganda to support the Penny Sharpe, Labor MLC Bill which is doomed to fail if politicians in NSW aren’t convinced of the need for some action. In lieu of evidence then let’s run an emotional campaign built on lies and short on facts, to cater to the ideologues behind this push to withdraw fundamental rights to a limited group of people that oppose their warped ideology.

Last year Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi sponsored a Bill to decriminalise abortion, withdraw conscientious objection rights of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals as well as to impose “safe access” zones of 150 metres around abortion mills. That Bill failed. This Sharpe Bill is the backup plan to that failure.

Everyone who is praying and offering counsel to women outside of abortion mills in NSW submits a Schedule 1 under the Summary Offences Act, to NSW Police advising them of their intentions. Times, dates and activities all need to be outlined. In my 24 years doing this there hasn’t been 1 case where the Police have rejected the application and forced us to go to the Courts to argue our rights. That’s because there hasn’t been a reason to. Such reasons would include harassment, intimidation, obstruction and abuse. In fact there are several laws in NSW that police can and would use to prosecute such behaviour. Why didn’t Markson tell you this?

A young radio journalist from JJJ did a documentary on what we do outside these places which was published on the JJJ website about September last year. She didn’t observe the behaviours Markson claims we engage in, or she would have highlighted that fact.

Markson also resorts to juvenile name calling in suggesting we are all on welfare and should get jobs. All those involved are either young students, are working and have jobs like myself or are retired after many years in the workforce. In other words, all are hard working citizens who are entitled to the same rights as Markson and her fellow travellers.

Why also didn’t she tell you that there have been hundreds of women who have taken the offer of support and assistance and have decided to keep their babies? Some of those women gave their personal testimonies which were videoed in June last year, before members of the NSW Parliament and pointed out the obvious; if we were abusing them and calling them murderers they wouldn’t have stopped to talk to us. They also told of the ongoing support, Medical, financial, legal and practical that they have been given by us and our supporters.

Abortion mills around NSW make their money principally from performing taxpayer funded abortions. If a woman wants a breast examination or pap smear or any “test for cancer” that Markson claims these place do, then usually they go to a public hospital or their own GP or specialist for these tests and examinations. These abortion mills don’t like us there because we are actually offering women “choices” which don’t involve them making money. That’s why they lie about what we do. Markson is doing their bidding. Shouldn’t private abortion mills receiving taxpayer funding and support (they are all not for profit organisations) be put under much closer scrutiny? They certainly shouldn’t be given privileged status based on lies.

Paul Hanrahan
Executive Director

Family Life International (Australia) Limited.


Sharri Markson: Women open to abuse at a most delicate time

The Daily Telegraph
March 23, 2018 12:00am
Subscriber only

THERE is a shared belief in our society that women should not be subject to abuse, harassment or threats. Unlike countries operating under sharia law, our Australian values have seen our laws strengthened to shield women from violent partners or intimidating behaviour.
Police can intervene, even against a woman’s will, to enforce an AVO and protect her from abuse. But there is one place where society has been ashamedly too weak to protect vulnerable women — outside family and reproductive health clinics.

Members of the Helpers of Gods Precious Infants stand across the road from the The Private Clinic abortion clinic in Devonshire St, Surry Hills. Unlike other states around Australia, our political leaders in NSW are allowing women to be subject to taunts, slurs and harassment at a time when they are at their most tender and unguarded — that is, when they are about to have a medical termination of a pregnancy.

While Tasmania, Victoria, ACT and Northern Territory all legislate protest exclusion zones around reproductive health clinics, NSW does not. Women going to get an abortion at family health clinics are subject to vile behaviour from protesters who are camped outside the front entrance, harassing clients as they walk in. In other circumstances, such verbal abuse, threats and intimidation would be grounds for police charges.

Yet this very same behaviour, which we would never as a society condone in a relationship, is extraordinarily permitted in public on the streets of Sydney and directed at young women. Irrespective of whether or not you agree with a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, there must be central agreement on the core notion that women do not deserve to be abused or harassed. Under any circumstances. There can be no leeway on this.

Currently, a cross-party working group that includes the Nationals’ Trevor Khan and Liberal MP Catherine Cusack is being set up to examine legislation put forward by Penny Sharpe to find a version that all political sides are comfortable with before it’s introduced to NSW State Parliament in April or May. The piece of legislation is called the Summary Offences Amendment, Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has not yet declared publicly whether she will support the legislation or allow Liberal MPs to have a conscience vote. Ms Berejiklian should show courage and leadership on this public health issue.

After all, this is not about free speech. You can debate abortion on the streets of Sydney, outside Parliament, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, anywhere you like. Debate it to your heart’s content. You can shut down the city, as rival protest groups did last Sunday, requiring riot squads and horseback police on standby.

You can shout about the issue at the top of your lungs, if you must, in the middle of Martin Place. But do not shout at women as they go about their personal medical treatments. This proposed legislation does not impede free speech. It impedes only someone’s right to harass a woman. And no Australian has the right to harass women. There is one vital point to remember — the reproductive health clinics outside which demonstrators camp offer a wide variety of health services apart from abortions.

Many of the women who are the victims of abuse are not even having a termination. They are visiting a family clinic for a broad spectrum of reasons. These include procedures to insert or remove IUD contraception, cancer screening and other gynaecological day procedures that are performed under a general anaesthetic. A woman could also be particularly sensitive if she is going in for a termination because of a foetal abnormality or a D and C (Dilation and Curettage) after a miscarriage when she’s been desperately trying to have a baby.

But the cruel protesters do not discriminate. They torment all young women entering the clinic, irrespective of the type of health treatment they are seeking. They scream that they are “child murderers”. They try to block them from entering the clinic. They threaten them with hell and shove plastic foetus dolls in their face. The result is women, nervous before undergoing a medical procedure under general anaesthetic in the first place, are in a greater state of distress after the threats and intimidation.

It’s shameful this is permitted in Sydney, Australia. Our leaders have been too scared of far-right religious morality crusaders to change the law. The Premier needs to understand the protesters attacking young women are not mainstream conservative Australians. The small groups of demonstrators are extreme fringe-dwellers who may be on welfare — how else could they afford to spend their days protesting without going to work?

Mainstream conservatives believe in vibrant democracy, and the rights of individuals to live their own lives and make their own decisions. Some may oppose abortion, but surely none would support the harassment of young women. Setting up exclusion zones is the right thing to do and the Premier should do her very best not to be held hostage to the fringe groups who cause women such distress when they are seeking a variety of medical treatments.

No right-minded conservative whose vote she wants would treat women like these tormentors do.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search