There is a right to protest

The Herald reports:

Green MP Jan Logie says it is worth debating whether New Zealand should introduce a no-protest zone around clinics, similar to those enforced in some Australian states.

Sure and I’d like to debate whether NZ should introduce a no-protest zone around political party conferences.

In the Australian states of Tasmania and Victoria, filming, intimidation and protests are banned within 150m of abortion centres. In New South Wales, a bill to provide a 150m “safe access zone” has just been introduced by a Green MP on the grounds of ensuring the right to medical privacy.

Logie said the Green Party had no plans for a member’s bill on the issue but another speaker had raised the Australian example. There were different views expressed on it and she believed a broader discussion was needed.

“I do think there’s is a genuine issue around the impact of those protests directly targeting women and making their lives worse.”

And protests around party conferences target delegates and make their lives worse.

The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand president Terry Bellamak said protesters didn’t have a place outside health clinics.

“Women experience harassment as intrusive and intimidating, even if protesters are silent.

“It’s just not kind. To stand outside where someone is just trying to go about their day getting health care and to be silently judging them.

“It’s the 21st century. We all have the freedom to make our own moral choices.”

Including the freedom to protest.

I’m pro-choice. I think those who do protest outside abortion clinics are misguided and insensitive and do indeed make what can be a traumatic experience even worse for those involved. I wish they didn’t protest, just as I wish the Westboro Church didn’t picket funerals. It reflects badly on them.

But they have a right to protest, and I don’t think no-protest zones are a good idea.

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