Application processes to implement “safe areas” are still under development according to the Ministry of Health. As such, not one exclusion zone has been established around New Zealand abortion facilities since the passing of the law in March.
According to the Ministry of Health website, “it is expected that providers will be able to start applying for Safe Areas within the first half of 2022.” It appears the projected date for applications to be accepted will be late June, if a highly biased, and at times untruthful Stuff article is to be believed.
Applications, once received, may take some time to be approved, with the Ministry stating that the “process may take up to six months.”
While Family Life International is pleased that the Ministry of Health is taking its time to establish application processes, and regulations, the delay is causing abortion promoters and providers great angst.
One abortionist, Dr E Jan MacDonald, lamented to a Stuff journalist of the “frustration” experienced because safe areas have not yet been implemented. She believes the zones will ensure women can access abortion “without being approached or hassled or prayed for, or offered money to not go into the clinic.”
MacDonald’s lament is joined by Terry Ballamark, from the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ, as well as an unnamed abortion worker.
All three are misleading in their comments which directly implicate Family Life International and 40 Days for Life. We have been able to continue a peaceful prayer presence despite the passing of the law in March.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the locations where “safe areas” are established will be made public and that “all regulations will be published via the New Zealand Legislation website and notified in the New Zealand Gazette. This is the standard process for all secondary legislation created under an Act.
An attempt is being made to equate protest with prayer
Prohibited activity is very clearly spelled out in the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act. It is so clear that abortion promoters and providers are having to do semantic gymnastics to try and convince the public that prayer is banned within a so-called “safe area.”
Public prayer is not a prohibited behaviour within an established “safe area.”
Prayer is not explicitly listed in the legislation, whereas other activities that would normally be considered sidewalk counselling or advocacy are clearly prohibited.
The Select Committee were careful in their report to Parliament to note that they do not consider prayer a prohibited behaviour. The Committee stated:
Some of us expressed concern at the possibility that individuals silently praying without any visual aids or placards could be included in the definition of prohibited behaviour, even in circumstances where their prayer was for matters unrelated to abortion, such as the illness or death of a loved one within a hospital. We were advised that silent prayer of this nature would not meet the definition of a protest.Select Committee Final Report (emphasis mine)
Simon Archer, who led this year’s 40 Days for Life vigil in Auckland believes that the abortion lobbyists are upset that they could not explicitly ban prayer. “It seems that this is a burr under their saddle,” he says, “so they look to have turned to propaganda and misrepresentation.”
Archer believes the Stuff article mentioned above, and other murmurings, are simply a “propaganda campaign to have prayer regarded as a form of protest.” He points to the use of an FLI Facebook post of the Palm Sunday Candlelight Vigil embedded in the Stuff article as an example, “Why else would you include our Facebook post?” he says, “it explicitly shows and talks about prayer!”
All pro-life advocates must push back on this attempt by abortion promoters to squash respectful, peaceful prayer outside abortion facilities by equating the practice with protest. The attempt to equate a religious practice with an act of protest is distasteful to say the least. It misrepresents the intention of the prayer.
What the legislation actually says
The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act declares the following as prohibited behaviours within an established safe area:
13A Certain behaviour prohibited in safe areas
(1) A person must not—
(a) obstruct a person in a safe area who is approaching, entering, or leaving any building in which abortion services are provided; or
(b) make a visual recording of another person in a safe area in a manner that is likely to cause emotional distress to a person accessing, providing, or assisting with providing, abortion services; or
(c) do any of the following in a safe area in a manner that could be easily seen or heard by another person (A) who may be accessing, providing, or assisting with providing, abortion services:
(i) advise or persuade A to refrain from accessing or providing abortion services (unless the advice or persuasion is by a person who is, with the consent of A, accompanying A):
(ii) inform A about matters related to the provision of abortion services, other than during the course of providing those services, or assisting with provision of those services (unless the information is provided by a person who is, with the consent of A, accompanying A):
(iii) engage in protest about matters relating to the provision of abortion services.
Contraception, Sterilisation, Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act, 2022 (bold and italic emphasis mine).
Peaceful prayer occurs outside the Auckland Medical Aid Centre (AMAC) every Wednesday morning at 7:00am to 8:00am and 9:30am to 10:30am. For more information please contact Simon here.