Our bodies. Our health.
Women need safe access zones.

ACT NOW: safe access zones petition

Help us gather signatures and tell the NSW Parliament that women need safe access zones.

Click here to download the petition


Then add your name to the letter below - together we can get this done.

Sign the open letter to NSW parliamentarians seeking their support to provide safe access zones around reproductive health clinics.

Dear Members of the Parliament of NSW,

Women across NSW are subject to harassment and intimidation by individuals and organised groups when attempting to access health clinics that provide abortion, reproductive health services, cancer screening and other contraceptive services.

Self-declared sidewalk counsellors wait outside these clinics and behave in a threatening and intimidating manner by:

  • pushing brochures at those trying to enter the clinic with graphic, inaccurate and offensive images

  • taking photos and video without permission

  • physically blocking entry to clinics

  • calling women "child murderers"

  • threatening dire and ill-founded medical, spiritual and psychological consequences if women enter a clinic

  • harassing staff at these clinics

At some clinics, threats and intimidation are a daily occurrence. All women deserve the right to enter all health facilities free from harassment and with their privacy protected. In NSW, women do not have this right.

Three Australian jurisdictions - Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT - have successfully introduced 150 metre safe access zones around reproductive health clinics.

We must do the same here in NSW.

I urge you to support the Summary Offences Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill when it comes before the NSW Parliament this year.

Women in NSW deserve nothing less.

Yours sincerely

Add my name to the letter.
I support safe access zones for women.

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Share Your Story

Have you had experience trying to enter clinics in NSW? Your story will help us convince MPs why safe access zones are so important. You will not be identified.

Shared Stories

2021-07-30 17:36:48 +1000
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followed this page 2020-12-17 09:28:01 +1100
2018-05-23 21:25:37 +1000
Many years ago I opted to terminate my pregnancy. I was hounded from the time I got out of the car until I was inside the clinic. People were yelling, they held signs and forced pamphlets into the hands of those who passed. They had NO right to question my decision and force their opinions down my throat.

A small child who was with her parents had one of the pamphlets in her hands… She had no idea what she was seeing.
2018-04-27 11:37:33 +1000
Hello. I have recently had an abortion. I’m not the typical story you’d imagine: the teen with the unwanted pregnancy, the one night stand. I’m happily partnered with a child already. This was a wanted pregnancy, but certain circumstances meant that we had to make the decision to terminate. Our choice was motivated partly by medical reasons, and partly by choice reasons.

It was not an easy decision by far for me, and the experience has only strengthened my views that women have the right to decide if they want to continue a pregnancy without judgement or harassment.

I feel a great sense of loss, even though I do not regret the decision at all. While my abortion was performed in hospital, if I had been subjected to harassment at a clinic, I absolutely know it would have made a great impact on my mental wellbeing. This isn’t anything a woman should have to endure.

Prior to my decision making, I contact Marie Stopes for counselling. I have the greatest respect for that organisation and others like it and feel strongly about this issue.
2018-03-27 16:00:16 +1100
I had a termination at 18. I was fortunate to attend a clinic with no anti choice protesters. Being identified and outed to my parents would have placed me in danger of being beaten. I grew up in a family where fathers think they own their daughters. I was belted once for not getting a school assignment handed in on time.
2018-02-16 17:19:28 +1100
2017-06-09 11:05:34 +1000
We have similar people here in Victoria. At one point, I worked near a female health clinic. Although I never needed their services, I was still harassed and saw many other instances when passers by were harassed by these vile individuals. Stand outs were an instance where a ‘protester’ nearly struck a gentleman in the face with a model of an ‘aborted baby’ and another when the entire group descended on a colleague’s wife as she was walking past with their children and treated her to a torrent of abuse. I cannot think of any rational reason why they would have done this – and, ironically, the children (who they claim to love and protect) were absolutely terrified!
2017-06-03 09:13:27 +1000
I was raised in a home where termination was always on the table so it was never a morally weighted decision for me. My first (of two) termination occurred when i had recently become a single mum with two young children. An accidental pregnancy. My choice was termination. I remember commenting about the lack of protesters to a friend (this was almost 30 years ago in Melbourne). I was informed that a high profiled anti-choicer’s daughter had had a termination performed by one of the doctors at the clinic. The trade off being that this clinic was never subjected to anti choice zealotry.

2017-06-01 00:26:07 +1000
The key reason behind my anxiety and traumatic stress response post-abortion is the shame and stigma perpetuated by such people, my own family included, as protestors. You can never understand how difficult a decision like this is when your family will disown you either way.

The fear of being found out will be a shame I hold for my whole life, a secret that has split my developing years into a pre and post, together and alone, a narrowing of my world by those who have no right to own it.

Allowing protests outside clinics traumatises women seeking abortions to save their own lives – medically, emotionally, financially, socially, and academically. Now working in mental health, I can barely hold in my tears when I see other young women present with the same stories, the same shattering kept silent for months to years that has slowly pulled them apart at the centre. This self destruction is usually not about whether or not they ended a life, it is constructed around the guilt and public stigma enforced by those who reject a woman’s bodily sovereignty.

Allow safe zones, allow safe medical practice, reject the stigma, and encourage support for women who need nothing but, regardless of their choice. It comes down to one woman, one womb, one fetus; and strangers who choose to torment women living other lives with hate speech should at least be kept at a distance to promote respect for supportive and holistic healthcare.
2017-05-31 22:14:21 +1000
It’s the most traumatic and gut wrenching decision you will ever have to make, and largely alone. The absolute last thing you need is to be harassed upon the long walk from the car to the clinic. Salt to the wounds. Damages the women just a little bit more.
2017-05-31 18:39:18 +1000
I grew up in the ACT. My parents are pro-lifers and for many years myself and my siblings were taken to protests in the ACT and NSW where women were told they were murderers and that the unborn baby was worth more than them. The looks of terror and fear have not left me.

As I grew older I realised what was happening and saw the look of terror in the women’s faces for what they were and understood the abuse and injustice.

As an adult I lived in Melbourne and each day on my way to work I witnessed women harassed by pro-lifers as they tried to enter a women’s health clinic. I was one of many women who campaigned for safe zones in Victoria. It was the right thing to do.

I can forgive myself for my participation in human rights abuse as a child, however I will not idly accept this continued threat to women.

I respect the right to protest. Absolutely. I also respect the right for safety and privacy of those who are vulnerable. And yes, women unfortunately in NSW and across Australia are vulnerable.

It is our responsibility to protect women. As a woman I know this well. I have seen the terror from both sides as dominant culture and religion impose views on women’s rights and bodies.

So I ask that our Prime Minister’s call to respect women begins in NSW Parliament. Safety zones work. I’ve lived in two jurisdictions that prove this. I’ve seen the peaceful change. Let NSW be part of this change for the better.
2017-05-31 15:41:33 +1000
Having lived near a clinic I have witnessed how these people have hounded girls seeking help bringing them to tears and physically pushing them around.

As a young woman myself, who was sitting at a cafe next door waiting for the post office to close they also targeted me- I was just waiting for a package!

I was so enraged at their judgement and harassment of all women that I went to the dry cleaners, asked them for some coat hangers and handed them out the protesters to say perhaps they’d like to offer the girls another option.

Keep them away from clinics. Have good practices for counselling girls through the decision free from the moral high ground of others.
2017-05-31 14:42:44 +1000
I have had two abortions, one in 2012 and the other in 2014. There’s no story, because I don’t need to justify myself – it’s MY body and only I get to say what happens to it.
2017-05-31 09:59:00 +1000
I do not do pregnancy well. Both my live births nearly killed me, and in one instance, the infant died for over ten minutes before he could be extracted. I have had seven pregnancies and only two survived. I have never lost a baby by choice, but I can’t say what choices I may have made had they not been made for me.

As one pregnancy became increasingly complicated, I had to attend a clinic in Sydney after the pregnancy was considered dangerous and I was medically advised to have a termination. It was decided that it was better that I should attend the clinic prior to the situation becoming a serious emergency, rather than take up an emergency theatre at that time. The developing foetus was semi-ectopic, threatening to rupture my fallopian tube, and the pain it was causing me was beyond description. I was unable to stand up straight. I had a 7 year old to look after and I could not risk dying and leaving him alone. Still, making the choice to follow medical advice was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I grieve her every year when the gardenias come out.

I don’t know if you can possibly imagine the horrendous psychological agony involved with having to be physically manhandled and verbally abused as I approached and entered the premises, after making the decision I had had to make. I hope you, or your wives or daughters, never have to experience that. And the terrible guilt my partner felt for not ‘protecting’ me – as I’d asked him, for me, to hold his head high and not to respond to them in any way.

To compound my suffering, I had complications post-termination, and I had to attend a second time for a more extensive procedure. I was abused and accused – while I was sick with internal bleeding. They got to abuse me two times for the price of one! Score for the religious zealots!

Regardless of a woman’s reasons, or needs, in regard to termination, she has a right to privacy and peace. The women who are attending for other reasons have a right to privacy and peace. The men who already feel powerless, have a right to privacy and peace.

If a person suffering ice psychosis approached people outside a medical centre and abused and screeched manically, they would be arrested. So should these fanatics be arrested and charged by police for breach of peace, and verbal abuse.
2017-05-31 09:50:14 +1000
When I was attending a clinic in Camperdown the entrance of the building was surrounded by protesters with disturbing signs with utterly false propaganda about abortion procedures. They were extremely hostile and made everyone who had to enter the clinic feel threatened. They yelled in our faces and shoved us around as we entered, they also laid their hands on my mother who is a woman of delicate stature who suffers from PTSD. I have never felt such rage in my life, no one should have to fee a threatened as we did.
followed this page 2017-04-19 12:10:07 +1000
2017-04-10 20:18:42 +1000
I was trying to enter an abortion clinic in Surry Hills in 2015 for my procedure. I was harassed by a woman, who not only shoved gruesome photos of fetuses in my face, but also verbally abused me, including saying “that I was making the biggest mistake of my life”. I should not be abused for making a decision for myself and my body. It is nobody else’s place to judge me for having an abortion, including the woman I encountered that day. I support safe access zones because women deserve respect and should not be attacked when they are undergoing what is ultimately a very emotionally and physically draining experience.
2017-04-06 20:13:47 +1000

Whilst studying at uni, I worked for a telemarketer on Elizabeth st in Sydney.

Every Saturday morning several men in their 50s or 60s and a handful of young women under 25 would picket and harass women accessing health services.

This was normalised by my male co-workers who understood it as “a hassle for them” (the women) and “nutty church stuff” but something they felt they didn’t have to do anything about.

This sight and these actions were easy to discount and trivialise as extreme but it was horrible to see all the women’s own judgement of themselves being undermined and outsourced to the aggressively caring and Holy Males.

These girls and women have spoken with experts.

It also compounded the propaganda I continue to be fed by the media and some religious places that conflate God the Father with actual fatherhood

Generally, in social and public spaces, when they attack your genitals, maybe you’ve got to leave the room?

How, I think to myself in more exasperated moments, can one gender be so encouraged to subjugate, dominate, consistently undermine and dehumanise girls and women, so much so, that they would put that lack of trust in their own judgement INTO LAW…. and then call it respect, or then call it love?

Respect is love. Love is not hate.

Queers are the best.

It is very easy for me to look at these older men picketing, who have naturalised their privelege, manhood and indeed partnership through certain ideas about subjugation, hit their 50s and get more aggressive with this undermining dynamic. It’s very easy for me to look at the young women and see that they don’t yet understand that these men do not love them or acknowledge them as fully formed women here.

Only female death rates increase with criminalising abortions. I hope you can see that the dynamic described above is just a naturalised habit of men trying to control, subjugate and make dependent that which they desire.

It’s as natural as my male co-workers not caring about it very much. It doesn’t affect them directly (it actually serves them if they want to be a manly Australian).

Controlling, regulating, devaluing and harrassing a vagina (not a fully formed woman) is not an entitlement and it shouldn’t be normalised.

Please get these people away from those that would claim their own personhood; their own body; their own judgement; their own humanity.


2017-04-06 09:52:38 +1000
I have been seriously disturbed by protesters going into a termination alone and every day I had to walk past them near my home years later.
2017-04-06 08:53:10 +1000
In the 80’s I attended a clinic with my mother. I was 18, pregnant and scared. My boyfriend, now husband of nearly 30 years was at his job fretting. The monsters out the front of the clinic had lined the footpath on both sides. They were loud and pushy, shoving big posters at us and placing brochures in our faces. They were calling us names, invoking bible passages at us and jostling us. My mother shielded me as best she could. We did not engage them, there was no point for as far as they are concerned they are right and you are wrong. The people in the clinic were wonderful, I do not in any way regret my abortion or think about it in a negative way, I was counselled and firm in my mind that I could not care nor provide for a baby. What still scares me and gives me nightmares are the awful people who abused and tried to stop me from attending the clinic. They didn’t know me or my story – why I was there, yet they stood in judgement of me, abused me and told me what I had to do with my body. I was 18, of legal age to drink alcohol, I could drive a car and vote. My Government had deemed me an adult. Yet these people tried to take away my rights as a human being, my right to my body. To force me to do as they wanted.

These people are still attending this clinic and others like it, yet today they are more fervent than ever. With technology they have more information. They have higher grade pictures. They have videos. They are louder and listen to no-one.

A decision to have an abortion is not one taken lightly. You don’t just wake up one day and think “I’m bored what can I do? I know I’ll go and have an abortion” It is a personal decision between a woman and herself, her body which she has controlled all of her life. It is a hard decision. It is a decision which takes time to make. It is no-one else’s decision but the woman making it.

I am lucky, I had the love, support and strength of my mother and my partner to help me through my trauma. Every now and then I still wake up in a cold sweat amongst a sea of faces abusing me and calling me a murderer. This needs to stop. These people need to stop.
2017-04-05 22:08:40 +1000
I need to go to a clinic soon to get my IUD replaced. When I told my doctor that I wanted to go to a clinic so that I could be sedated he warned me that there will be people outside harassing all people going to the clinic. I am so angry that this is still a thing that women need to worry about. I hope they try something with me because I am not scared I am angry, and I am ready.
2017-04-05 15:45:09 +1000
I work next door to a clinic and have confronted these vile protestors on many an occasion. The most significant was one vile beast reducing a Muslim man to tears. He was supporting his partner and they had obviously made a hard decision. He didn’t need to be called a killer. I intervened, took photographs, called the police, and made a statement. People accessing health care need to get the advice of doctors, not protestors. If you want to fight opinions, do it on neutral turf, not at a medical setting.
2017-04-05 09:51:37 +1000
My grandmother conceived my mother at a time when she didn’t know how she would be able to provide for her baby inside her. She carried my mother and gave birth to her. Mum was adopted into a beautiful family. Now she is working in a field where she treats people with depression and saves lives everyday.
2017-04-04 15:53:21 +1000
Mine is not a negative story. In fact, at 7.15 in the morning when I arrived at my clinic near Central no one was there to attack me as I entered. I was nervous (though perhaps more because this was the first time I’d be going under GA). But not having anyone heckling me meant that my experience was actually really positive. I was not shamed by my decision to protect myself and control a situation I did not want. From GP to clinic, the process was easy and I found I had no mental side effects after the procedure. Granted it happened, I can’t ignore that – but I carried no unnecessary anxiety. But for om my friends, I’ve heard no other’s story that was this lucky, and each one battled regret, pain, or a longer adjustment back to normal life. I can only think that these “side-walk counsellors” had something to do with it. I want more women to have the experience I had, which at the time was just damn luck that no one wanted to be standing on the street on a cold wet winter’s morning. I’m still disappointed that our State hasn’t corrected their archaic abortion laws… this is the least they can do to protect women (and their partner who may accompany them) and ensure safe abortions are possible, accessible, and that undue stress is not brought on to what is already a hard decision women have to face.
2017-04-04 11:49:11 +1000
I had a termination in the 80s. One of the worst aspects of that day was having to run the gauntlet of a bunch of god bothering lunatics who stood outside the Surry Hills clinic, waving posters, screaming and generally adding an insane level of distress to an already stressful situation. It was unforgivable and it should not be allowed
2017-03-31 09:41:33 +1100
I often walk down past an abortion clinic situated on Devonshire St. where I encounter a number of very ugly neanderthals (mostly men & the poster female person) who proscribes their vainity of self rigteous patriachal bigotry. That their proselytising is right and just to harass, villify and shame women as they go into the clinic.

One more insult for women who are, who have to be the one who is ‘responsible’ ‘to take precautions’ in a mans world and men’s law that is still on the statutes that abortion is illegal.

It’s time women of Australia, it’s time.

For my part in harassing them at every opportuunity I sing to them my condom song, and they still dont get it.
2017-03-30 10:58:15 +1100
When I had to take my daughter to a clinic we were filmed and abused by people standing outside. My daughter was terrified and I was just so angry about it. I mean how dare they attack us like that. It felt so personal. Still makes my blood boil!
2017-03-30 10:50:27 +1100
I’ve been to a clinic in NSW with my partner, and as soon as these people with their signs could see we were going inside they just swarmed on us. They basically blocked the door and my partner had to push ahead of me to try and stop them from getting at me until we got inside. It was very physical and scary, lots of yelling and everything. They really stressed us both out, it was horrible.

Want to know more about Safe Access Zones?

What is the current situation in New South Wales?

Women in NSW are currently subject to harassment and intimidation by self-declared “sidewalk counsellors” when attempting to access health services that provide family planning, reproductive health and abortion services.

Organised groups and individuals have appointed themselves as coercive counsellors to women and congregate outside clinics where abortions are performed pushing brochures at people with graphic and offensive images, getting in women's faces and blocking entry to clinics, calling women "child murderers" and threatening dire and ill-founded medical, spiritual and psychological consequences.

This has been a particular problem at clinics in Surry Hills and Albury in most recent times, although this harassment occurs at most clinics.

In NSW, abortion is regarded as lawful if performed to prevent serious danger to the woman’s mental and physical health, which includes economic and social pressures.

This is a health service for the well-being of women, but it is a health service at which women are regularly interfered with by so-called “sidewalk counsellors”. No other health service attracts this personal harassment and abuse directed at patients.

Why do we need safe access zones for women seeking health services?

Behaviour that intimidates, harasses, leads to fear or anxiety or distress should never be an acceptable occurrence in the lives of women or health service providers at work. Many women and employees report being shoved, abused, threatened and forced to view, by direct intrusion, completely misleading, offensive and graphic pictures or props such as dismembered fetuses as they attend reproductive health clinics.

Medical privacy is a highly regarded principle of our health system, regardless of the type of health service being provided. However, for this particular health service women are routinely harassed, intimidated, hindered and sometimes blocked from the entrance of services or filmed and recorded going about their business, causing distress or anxiety. This is an unacceptable interference with modern health care in Australia.

Put simply, without this bill, many women will be unable to safely access legitimate and legal medical procedures or even simply medical advice. That has to change.

Why don’t the current laws work?

Current laws require a very high bar of criminal behaviour to be reached before police officers can intervene in the type of acts committed by “sidewalk counsellors” who intimidate women. The result is often police simply talking to the assailant rather than stopping them from acting or taking any action to prosecute, unless a violent or physical altercation has occurred.

The law does not yet recognise the harm committed by these deliberate and targeted acts of intimidation and harassment, and the distress and anxiety they cause. We need laws that do.

Do safe access zones restrict free speech and freedom to protest?


Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are rights that all modern democracies support and uphold, as we do in NSW. This bill does not interfere with that – let’s be clear, the behaviour and actions of “sidewalk counsellors” outside reproductive health clinics is not protest or the type of speech that is acceptable in any other circumstance, it is simply the intimidation and harassment of individual women who are accessing a medical service.

More so, this proposition has been tested multiple times in courts of the USA and Canada, and each time a sensible and limited safe access zone (such as proposed by this bill) was legally tested, the judge found there were no rights being infringed, and upheld the law.

It has also been confirmed by numerous respected legal authorities including the Law Society of NSW and the Human Rights Law Centre that safe access zone laws such as this are consistent with human rights law.

No one is suggesting that people cannot speak out about their views on abortion or protest against abortion if they wish to, but the place to do that is in front of Parliament where the decisions are made about the laws that govern health services like abortion – not by harassing or abusing women on the footpath outside the clinics they are seeking to enter.

The right of women to go about their daily business, whether that be attending a medical appointment or otherwise, without being harassed or interfered with by another person, is a fundamental right, and a right that should be placed above any other person’s supposed right to try to tell women how to go about their daily business.

Have safe access zones been introduced anywhere before?

Four Australian jurisdictions – Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT and the NT – have recently passed laws that introduce “safe access zones” around abortion clinics. All involve a 150 metre zone.

In these areas, clinicians and staff have reported attending their workplaces without being harassed, abused, or in fear for the first time in their careers. They also report they now have the sort of proper, private and dignified access to their health service available for their patients, which is how medical services should always be provided.

It has also transformed the behaviour of those carrying out the harassment of women from “sidewalk counselling” to a valid form of activity to which citizens have a right: public protest. Previously, the activities outside health clinics in these states, and still occurring in New South Wales, represented intimidation and harassment of individual women, not protest.

What will Penny Sharpe’s bill do?

The bill is short and very simple. It will create new offences by prohibiting certain behaviour within a radius of 150 metres of a reproductive health clinic where abortions are provided.

The new laws will direct that a person who is in a safe access zone must not harass, intimidate, interfere with, threaten, hinder, obstruct or impede, by any means, any person accessing, leaving, or attempting to access or leave, any reproductive health clinic at which abortions are provided.

The bill will also stop people from obstructing a footpath or road leading to reproductive health clinics, or make a communication that is reasonably likely to cause distress or anxiety to those accessing, leaving, or attempting to access or leave, or is inside a clinic.

The laws will also prohibit people from intentionally capturing visual data (a recording) of another person, by any means, without that other person's consent, if that other person is in a safe access zone and is accessing, leaving, or attempting to access or leave, or is inside, a reproductive health clinic at which abortions are provided. Publishing or distributing a recording will also be barred under the laws.

Importantly, the laws will not impact on gathering at or outside the Parliament of NSW, nor the carrying out of preparations for elections such as surveys and distributing information leaflets.

How can I get involved to help end the harassment of women seeking health services?

Sign the open letter at www.womenneedsafeaccesszones.com to send a message to Members of Parliament that women need safe access zones for reproductive health services and that the community demands that we end the harassment of women using these services.

In addition, if you have experienced this sort of intimidation or harassment yourself, you can make a powerful contribution by sharing your story (anonymously) on the website to show MPs and the community that this behaviour exists, that it is unacceptable, and that women need safe access zones.