“Safe area” legislation threatens to shut down peaceful prayer vigils

A Bill which would legalize the implementation of so-called “safe areas” around selected abortion centres in New Zealand has been introduced to Parliament.

The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill was introduced by Louisa Wall (Labour) on 28 July.  A First Reading has yet to take place.

So-called “safe areas” that exclude pro-life activity and prayer outside abortion centres were inadvertently voted out of the rushed through Abortion Legislation Act.  A misunderstanding by pro-abortion politicians led to an Act which mentioned the notion of “safe areas”, with no possible way to implement them.

Hence, this Amendment Bill.

The Abortion Legislation Act, 2020, passed on 18 March, allows for abortion up to birth for essentially any reason what-so-ever.  Given Royal Assent on 23 March, the legislation came into force the very next day, allowing abortion to be deemed “essential” health care.

Purpose of the Bill

According to the General policy statement, the purpose of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill is to “provide a regulation-making power to set up safe areas around specific abortion facilities, on a case-by-case basis.”

The writers of the Bill argue that this regulation-making power is designed to “protect the safety and well-being” along with the “privacy and dignity” of those accessing abortion and of abortion workers.

Safe areas to be determined on a case-by-case basis

If this law is to pass, so-called “safe areas” would not automatically be enforced at every single abortion facility in New Zealand. 

Where implemented, the “safe area” can be no more than 150 meters from any part of the premises.

As noted in the explanatory note, the “specific size and exact location of the safe area would be determined on a case-by-case basis”. 

The Governor General has the power to make the “safe area” regulation.  This is done on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, in consultation with the Minister of Justice.

Prohibited Behaviour defined

Section 13A 3 explains what is deemed as prohibited behaviour:

prohibited behaviour means—

(a)  intimidating, interfering with, or obstructing a protected person—

(i)  with the intention of frustrating the purpose for which the protected person is in the safe area; or

(ii)  in a manner that an ordinary reasonable person would know would cause emotional distress to a protected person:

(b)  communicating with, or visually recording, a person in a manner that an ordinary reasonable person would know would cause emotional distress to a protected person

protected person means a person who is in a safe area for the purpose of—

(a)  accessing abortion services; or

(b)  providing, or assisting with providing, abortion services; or

(c)  seeking advice or information about abortion services; or

(d)  providing, or assisting with providing, advice or information about abortion services.

Any person who contravenes the above, and is convicted, is liable for a fine not exceeding $1,000.

A warrant for arrest is not required

If a constable asks a person to stop engaging in behaviour that they believe contravenes the legislation, and the person does not stop, that person can be arrested and taken into custody without a warrant.

Limitation on rights and freedoms

The Minister of Health, when recommending that regulations for a safe area are created, must take into account the rights and freedoms of citizens.

Clause 13C (b) states that the Minister must be satisfied that in creating a safe area it “can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society as a reasonable limitation on people’s rights and freedoms.”

Safety, well-being and dignity only protected if you’re born

New Zealand law now views induced abortion as an essential health service. 

However, one only need look at the scientific evidence that a unique human being is created at fertilization to realize the gaping disconnect between true health care and the very nature and end of abortion. 

Maternity care, recognizes that both the mother and her unborn child must be looked after, and all measures are taken to ensure the safety of both when the child is “wanted”.

Abortion denies the humanity and the right to life of an unborn child, simply because of the wishes of his or her mother.  Abortion does not have the aim of healing.  Its aim is to destroy.

Abortion is a grave injustice. 

Ironically, this Amendment Bill declares that it is about the “safety and well-being”, and respect of the “privacy and dignity” of women and abortion workers.

What about the safety, well-being and dignity of the tiniest of human beings?

We would do anything at all to save them if they were already born.  Their location doesn’t change their dignity.

Instead the most helpless among us are being poisoned and brutally torn apart in the name of “choice” and “health care” – essential health care no less.

Often their mothers allow this to happen because they believe they have no other choice.

Why peaceful, prayerful presence outside abortion facilities is necessary

For almost 30 years, Family Life International has had a peaceful, prayerful presence outside abortion centres in New Zealand.  Many, many lives have been saved because people have sacrificed their time in order to be a sign of hope.

Our presence is never in protest. 

It does, however, acknowledge that tiny human beings are being subjected to a brutal death. 

Our presence reminds the community that something very unsavoury is happening in their midst.  It challenges people to critique their values. 

Being present extends other options to abortion-minded mothers.  Our presence tells her that she is strong; that she is not alone; that there is hope.

Fathers are reminded that they have a duty to protect their child and the woman they love.

The very beginning stages of healing can begin for those who hurt after their abortion experience.

Workers are extended love and mercy.

Finally, and most importantly, abortion offends the heart of God.  We make reparation for this grave injustice and beg for His mercy at the site where this atrocity occurs.

The day after this Bill was introduced into Parliament, FLI’s faithful prayer volunteers stood as they do every Wednesday on the opposite side of the road from AMAC.  They were approached by a woman who works in the abortion facility.  There was a woman, she said, that they could do nothing for.  She knew FLI had helped previously and wondered if we could do so again.  She asked for cards for our pregnancy centre – Gianna’s Choice – and took them with her to the facility.

Countless other stories could be relayed demonstrating the powerful witness a prayerful, presence is.

At the heart of the introduction of the Bill is the acknowledgement that a peaceful, prayerful presence outside abortion facilities changes hearts and saves lives.  A reality that cannot be tolerated by militant pro-abortion proponents.

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