According to a decision recently handed down by the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia’s most populous state, it is now a crime to display photographs of aborted babies in public.
The decision was made as the Court upheld the criminal conviction of Michelle Fraser, arrested in 2013 outside the Fertility Control Clinic, an abortuary in East Melbourne. Michelle was charged under the Summary Offences Act of 1966 (Sect 17(1)b) for ‘displaying an indecent or obscene figure in a public place’. Now the Supreme Court has denied her appeal. According to the Court, pictures of dead babies “may be so distressing as to be potentially harmful” and displaying such images is “disgusting, repulsive, repugnant, and offensive having regard to contemporary standards.”
“I want other women to at least know what they are doing so they are without excuse,” Fraser said at the time of her arrest. “I also want these abortion victims to have a voice. I am happy to go to court for the babies, to stand in the gap and have the law keepers give their judgments.”
Michelle Fraser, who refers to herself as an abolitionist, is one of a very small number of Australian pro-lifers who have been arrested for protesting abortion.
“I want these abortion victims to have a voice.”—Abolitionist Michelle Fraser
Last year, the Victorian State Government enacted legislation prohibiting people from protesting, praying, or sidewalk counseling within 150 meters of a place that performs abortions. The penalty may include up to twelve months of jail time. Kathy Clubb, a 50-year-old mother of 13, was arrested outside the same East Melbourne clinic in August last year. Mrs Clubb stated that her intention in breaching the “safe access zone” was to draw attention to the “totalitarian restrictions” being placed on the Australian pro-life movement, and on her own group in particular, the Helpers of God's Precious Infants.
Similar restrictions exist in other Australian jurisdictions. In 2016, a 75-year-old veteran, Kelly Mellor, was arrested and fined $750 for praying the rosary across an intersection from an abortion clinic in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Just a few weeks later, pro-life activist Graham Preston was arrested with two friends for infringing bubble zone restrictions outside a Hobart, Tasmania abortion clinic, and fined $3,000.
Since 2008, Victorian law has permitted abortion on demand up to 24 weeks’ gestation, and beyond if two medical practitioners agree that the abortion would be “appropriate”. Doctors who conscientiously object are required by law to make referrals to doctors who will perform abortions. According to Wikipedia, a number of amendments were proposed to the bill, for example, to provide counseling and support to women seeking abortions, to ban late-term and partial-birth abortions, to administer anesthetic to the unborn babies, to protect the lives of children born alive after abortions, and many more. All these measures were defeated.
Meanwhile, the majority of Australian pro-lifers continue to pray behind the 150-meter bubble zones mandated by law. In the wake of the Michelle Fraser decision, some have taken to Twitter to remind fellow pro-lifers that it is still legal to display images of live babies.