This evening Albury Police held a mediation meeting between groups involved in the situation on Englehardt Street at the Fertility Control Clinic.
Present were representatives of the ‘Helpers of God’s Precious Infants’, Albury Choice, Albury Council’s enforcement team, residents from the Englehardt Street area, Dr Kathy Lewis from the Fertility Control Clinic, Dr Peter Mourik who supervises medical students who were placed at the clinic, and officers from NSW Police.
Albury Choice presented a simple and reasonable proposal to the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.
If HoGPI will cease filming and approaching women accessing the clinic, and move their protest away from the entrance of the clinic to the other side of the road, Albury Choice will agree not to be there opposing them.
If the religious group are willing to address these simply issues of privacy, we are prepared to publicly support their right to express their views.
After much obfuscation, the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants rejected this proposal.
They refuse to stop approaching women trying to access the clinic, despite firm Police warnings at tonight’s meeting that such behavior could constitute intimidation.
There was some progress.
HoGPI have agreed not to film women entering the clinic for the time being.
There was also discussion of a compromise proposal to minimise the sense of confrontation on Englehardt Street.
The proposal was that HoGPI’s ‘counsellors’ would keep more distance from the clinic and be less agressive in their approach to women heading to the clinic; and that Albury Choice supporters would maintain more distance from the HoGPI gathering.
No specifics were agreed on, it does however offer a basis for avoiding situations that Albury Police indicated they intend to respond to robustly.
HoGPI seem determined to continue their harassment of women seeking to access the Fertility Control Clinic on Englehardt Street. Tomorrow, Albury Choice supporters will be on Englehardt Street opposing the harassment and intimidation of women seekings to access a lawful and legitimate medical service.
A fuller report on what happened, the issues raised and the dynamics at play in tonights meeting will be made at the next Albury Choice meeting.