New Zealand’s first abortion facility exclusion zones, otherwise known as “safe areas”, have been established and will come into force on Friday, 25 August.
Six abortion centres have regulations prohibiting particular behaviours within a defined border surrounding their premises. These facilities are:
- Auckland Medical Aid Centre (AMAC)
- Epsom Day Unit, Greenlane Clinical Centre
- Te Mahoe Unit, Wellington Regional Hospital
- Te Nīkau, Grey Hospital and Health Centre, Greymouth Hospital
- Gynaecology Procedure Unit (GPU) and Christchurch Women’s Hospital, Christchurch Hospital
- Dunedin Hospital
From Thursday 5 October:
- Thames Hospital
- Te Aka Tauawhi Tangata – Women’s Clinic, Rotorua Hospital
- The Terrace Clinic, Hawkes Bay Hospital
- The Women’s Clinic, Palmerston North
- The Women’s Clinic, Invercargill
Each “Safe area” boundary is unique to individual premises and may not exceed 150m in any direction from the property’s perimeter.
For detailed information about the boundaries, consult the secondary legislation, as the images are indicative only.
What activities can we do with the establishment of “safe areas”?
With the establishment of some exclusion zones (“safe areas”), it is essential to understand what activities people who uphold the dignity of human life from conception may lawfully undertake.
Within an established “safe area”, people who uphold the dignity of human life from conception may:
✔️ Quietly and peacefully pray.
✔️ Undertake pro-life activity on private property.
Outside the defined “safe area,” activities can include:
✔️ Holding signs.
✔️ Handing out literature offering help and support to pregnant mothers and post-abortive women.
✔️ Discussing life-affirming options with abortion-minded women.
✔️ Holding memorials.
✔️ Protesting the violence perpetrated by abortion on an innocent human being.
This legislation does not apply if a “safe area” is not established around a particular abortion facility. For a “safe area” to be established, regulations for that specific facility must be published on the New Zealand Legislation website and notified in the New Zealand Gazette; a required process by law.
Remember that all pro-life witness ought to be respectful. Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. We are called to love. Be salt and light (cf. Matthew 5:13-14) and lead people, in love, to the truth.
For more information about what quiet, peaceful prayer might look like, please get in touch.
What are prohibited behaviours?
Details of which activities are prohibited within an exclusion zone are found in the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act.
For clarity, the actual text of the law is reproduced here (see section 13A of the Act).
A person must not –
- Obstruct a person in a safe area who is approaching, entering, or leaving any building in which abortion services are provided.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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)
- 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)
- Engage in protest about matters relating to the provision of abortion services.
What happens if the law is broken?
A police officer must ask a person to stop committing prohibited behaviour. If the person continues regardless, the officer can arrest the person and take them into custody without a warrant.
If a person is found to have carried out prohibited behaviour within a defined “safe area” on conviction, they can be fined up to $1,000.
The introduction of exclusion zones (“safe areas”) provides those who work to defend human life from conception with an opportunity to become more prayerful, more reliant on God, and more loving in all of our approaches. Rather than seeing the advent of these exclusion zones as a negative, it should inspire us to work with greater zeal and to discover new ways of reaching those women and men who believe that the violence of abortion is their only choice, presenting them with options that bring about true freedom and peace.