Women’s rights are still under attack in Albury. Once again a group of anti-choice religious demonstrators have picketed the Engelhardt St Fertility Control Clinic in Albury, and attempted to intimidate and harass women seeking to access the clinic.
Today, for the second week in a row, the anti-choice group were met by a small and determined gathering, and their harassment was substantially disrupted.
I arrived at the clinic at ten am to find five of anti-choice set up out the front of the clinic. Three were across the road from the clinic loudly praying, whilst two others were on the foot path out the front of the clinic accosting women who were seeking to access the clinic. I was joined by chief executive officer of Women’s Health Goulburn North East, Susie Reid.
Women’s Health Goulburn North East is the overarching body that includes the Engleheart St clinic. Susie Reid is highly supportive of action to defend women’s rights, and to obstruct anti-choice campaigners seeking to harass women at the clinic. They are keen to see this become an ongoing action in defence of women’s rights to access a clinic free from harassment.
Others arrived over the following hour. Susie Reid demonstrated the art of intercepting and non-physically obstructing anti-choice harassers out the front of the clinic, impressive and highly effective!
The anti-choice group sought to engage us verbally on several occasions, but their inability to get any response frustrated them. We had one drive and stop abuser, who left when he realised he was being totally ignored.
The surveillance camera was back. This week the camera was in a car parked on the clinics side of the road, and it was pointed directly at the entrance of the clinic. The claims of the anti-choice group, that their camera is getting a broad picture of the street in case they are assaulted, are clearly bogus. It’s there to intimidate women seeking to access the clinic.
At 11.30am, having been obstructed from accessing the front of the clinic and harassing women, the anti-choice activists packed up and left. They took their camera with them.
We suspected this was a ruse, and it was. They returned in greater numbers. I still consider this a win. They were also forced to leave in order to get more supporters, and most importantly they did not bring the camera back.
There was one more occasion in which an anti-choice campaigner attempted to accost a woman leaving the clinic, but she was obstructed. The anti-choice group made no more attempts to interact with women coming or going from the clinic.
They then concentrated on praying loudly from across the street. At 3pm they packed up and left.
During the day there was some media interest. Prime News interviewed a number of people in the morning, and a journalist from the Border Mail arrived in the afternoon.
I consider the day a clear win for those of us defending women’s rights at the clinic. The anti-choice group clearly did not expect to be resisted for a second week. We received good support from passing drivers, and a number of people stopped to thank activists defending the clinic.
Three weeks ago we lived in a town where a group of religious fundamentalists could picket a fertility control clinic and harass women seeking help and advice with impunity. This is no longer the case.
This report is just one person’s account, and is no way an official position of any group, or the gathering as a whole! Also, ongoing updates are being posted to twitter using the hashtag #albchoice. Please share widely, no rights reserved.