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Thread: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

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    Default ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    ABC LINKY

    'Right to life' campaigners deny prayers outside abortion clinic were in protest, court hears
    By Gordon Taylor
    Updated 31 minutes ago

    MAP: Canberra 2600
    The trial of three men who allegedly protested outside Canberra's abortion clinic has heard they were praying, holding rosary beads and walking in an exclusion zone when arrested.

    The three elderly men, Kerry Mellor, John Popplewell and Ken Clancy, were in the ACT Magistrates Court today as evidence was given about an alleged protest on February 3 this year.

    Last year, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed legislation that banned protesting in an exclusion zone around the abortion clinic in the city.

    The ACT Government hoped the exclusion zone would stop protestors gathering at the clinic and causing distress to women entering the building.

    But the court heard the trio all in their 70s along with several other regular protesters, simply changed their tactics to get around the legislation.

    At first they moved across the road to outside a pub, and continued to display graphic anti-abortion material.

    The court heard when the exclusion zone was widened the men simply walked around the building, carrying rosary beads and praying.

    The men were charged by police for being in a protected area and engaging in prohibited behaviour under the territory's health laws.
    More, including S116 of Constitution reference, at source.
    EJB

    Im not one of the dead ones yet. - Ms Fishie.


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    Default Re: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    I'm surprised the ACL hasn't said anything about this, or I just didn't see it.
    The figures looked more or less human. And they were engaged in religion. You could tell by the knives (it's not murder if you do it for a god).
    ― Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

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    Default Re: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    From Mr Black's link, this argument:

    ... prosecutor James Walker argued this was a law of the Territory and therefore that {s116 of the Constitution} did not apply
    does not appear to be a promising one to me.

    I shoud not be taken to be pre-judging anything, especially any factual issues concerning the case, in this post. I intend merely to indicate the types of arguments which might arise:

    I suspect that all laws of the Australian Capital Territory are laws of the Commonwealth. See s122 of the Constitution:

    The Parliament {of the Commonwealth} may make laws for the government of any territory ...
    Then see another Commonwealth law, the Australian Capital Territory (Self Government) Act.

    The law being infringed, s87(1) of the ACT's Health Act, is a subordinate law made under a Commonwealth statute pursuant to an exclusive power of the Commonwealth granted by the Constitution. I suspect that makes the ACT Health Act a law of the Commonwealth.

    Then, the starting point in the prosecution is whether the choice to publicly pray as alleged in this case is

    ... protest, by any means, in the protected period in relation to the provision of abortions in the approved medical facility ...
    within the meaning of the defintion of “prohibited behaviour” in the ACT's Health Act. That may well require the Court to draw inferences about the defendants' intentions and the objective effect of their conduct.

    If such inferences are made, thereafter, I doubt that the ACT's Health Act will fall foul of s116 of the Constitution, for the following reasons.

    All rights, including the right to free religious expression, have limits.

    Could one, without permission of the relevant ACT roads authority, hold a lengthy religious service on a major road (say, the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge!) that blocked all traffic? To take an even more extreme example, could one sacrifice a baby to the old gods of the Aztecs in Canberra? Would s116 of the Constitution protect such conduct, despite the laws against blocking such public roads, and murder, respectively? Not likely in my view! There must be some limits to any right of religious expression.

    The test, I suspect, will be along the lines of the various proportionality tests advocated by the High Court in any number of recent (and not-so-recent!) constitutional cases concerning other rights: Loosely speaking, whether the ACT's prohibition upon of all forms of protest within short distances of approved medical facilities performing abortions is a reasonably proportionate protection of the rights of citizens to attend such approved medical facilities free from harassment and the interests of the Territory in protecting citizens' access to such facilities free from such harassment.

    I suspect the Prosecutor should contend that the answer to that question is affirmative. On that type of basis, IMO, it should be contended that the ACT's law is valid.

    One hopes that the reference in Mr Black's link is an incomplete and/or inaccurate account of the arguments being made by the Prosecutor.

    Again, I should not be taken to be pre-judging anything about this case, most especially any factual issues. This post is to indicate the types of arguments which, I think, are likely to arise.
    Last edited by Blue Lightning; 7th November 2017 at 10:00 PM.
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    Default Re: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    The figures looked more or less human. And they were engaged in religion. You could tell by the knives (it's not murder if you do it for a god).
    ― Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

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    Default Re: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    Oops! John Popplewell is a distant uncle...

    His son, my 3rd cousin, is a Latin Mass Catholic priest..
    Last edited by workmx; 13th November 2017 at 11:36 AM.
    Forgive me, I'm a sociologist and high horse slut!

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    Default Re: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    From Coryate's link:

    The court has also heard the three men have flagged a constitutional challenge, arguing the law is invalid because it infringes the implied freedom of political communication.
    First, notice it's the implied freedom of political communication, not s116, according to that report.

    Second, there may be some tension or perhaps inconsistency between the two defences: in the circumstances of this case, how could they have wished to make a political communication, yet, at the same time, not to have engaged in any form of protest?
    Last edited by Blue Lightning; 13th November 2017 at 12:17 PM.
    "Just stick to the idea that science is just about making descriptive models of natural phenomena, whose emergent predictions are tested to destruction" - Woof!
    "Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves" - Richard Feynman

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    Default Re: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    Quote workmx said View Post
    Oops! John Popplewell is a distant uncle...

    His son, my 3rd cousin, is a Latin Mass Catholic priest..
    ...just shake your family tree...


    A ratbag is a sheila or a bloke

    (Aussie Chorus of mates): ... Or a bloke

    Who's kind of funny,
    But like, who never sees the joke
    Now take me mother's brother, Uncle Graham,
    He's a raving bloody ratbag through and through
    He collects old kettles, makes his own wine out of nettles,
    And he reckons Adolf Hitler was a Jew

    He's always seeing flying saucers landing,
    Bringing ratbags to the Earth from Outer Space
    And he's written in his will,
    That when he dies we have to spill,
    His ash on Melbourne Cup day underneath the race

    (Aussie Chorus): ... Oh, yes, he is -

    A ratbag, a raving ratbag,
    He's a screwball, he's a nutcase, there's no doubt
    And if you think you're ratbag free
    Then just shake your family tree
    See the great big raving ratbags falling out

    If you eat your sweet and sour pork with chop-sticks
    When you're at home with no one 'round to see
    If you're a Filipino healer or think Shakespeare was a sheila
    Or you tried to cure your warts with herbal tea
    If you listen to the latest teenage Guru
    Or you pin your faith on Scientology
    If you grow organic food, go horse riding in the nude
    There's the very faintest chance that you could be

    (Chorus joins in): ... Could be a ratbag, a raving ratbag
    A ratbag, a raving ratbag
    You're a screwball, you're a nutcase, there's no doubt
    And if you think you're ratbag free
    Then just shake your family tree
    See the great big raving ratbags falling out

    You're a ratbag if you turn on your alarm clock (Chorus: Tick, Tock!)
    Though you know it never ever makes you wake (Chorus: Ring, Ring!)
    You're a ratbag if you rise with a burst of exercise,
    Or count to forty every time you chew your steak
    You're a ratbag if you live upon a commune,
    Or you sail the seas alone upon a yacht (Chorus): ... Ratbag!, ratbag!
    Rain cold squatters, housewife potters, anonymous phoners,
    Sperm bank donors, Pakistani waiters, poofter liberators
    Mystics from Thailand Everyone in Ireland!
    In fact, looking around this hall,
    I'll ascertain out of us all,
    That there's just one bastard in here, Who is not ...

    (Chorus): ... Who's not
    A ratbag, a raving ratbag
    A screwball, a nutcase, there's no doubt
    And if you think you're ratbag free
    Then just shake your family tree
    See the great big raving ratbags falling out

    (Repeat, with Chorus): A ratbag, a raving ratbag
    You're a screwball, you're a nutcase, there's no doubt
    And if you think you're ratbag free
    Then just shake your family tree
    See the great big raving ratbags
    Raving, raving, ratbags Raving, raving, ratbags
    Falling out...
    Last edited by The Irreverent Mr Black; 13th November 2017 at 12:22 PM. Reason: lyrics
    EJB

    Im not one of the dead ones yet. - Ms Fishie.


  11. #8
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    Default Re: ACT: Abortion Clinic Protestors In Court

    I'm no lawyer but based on that article and the video I'd rule in favor of the three guys, though there is probably history, perhaps involving those men that I don't know enough about.

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