Council can act on fertility control clinic protest without new move on laws

The Human Rights Law Centre today rejected comments by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who claimed the Melbourne City Council felt “impotent” to act against anti-abortion protestors who for decades have beset the East Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic. Cr Doyle welcomed new laws allowing police to move on protesters and said they would help remove the protestors from the front of the clinic.

“Robert Doyle’s statements today sound like an excuse for inaction. The council has powers under existing laws to act on the anti-abortion group but has simply failed to enforce the laws, despite numerous requests,” said the HRLC’s Director of Advocacy, Rachel Ball.

“The existing laws didn’t stop the Melbourne City Council and Victoria Police from forcibly evicting peaceful Occupy Melbourne protesters. Yet the council has been unwilling to intervene to ensure women can safely access a legal health service despite the Lord Mayor’s welcome recognition that the behaviour is appalling,” said Ms Ball.

The HRLC, together with Maurice Blackburn and pro bono barristers, is representing the Fertility Control Clinic in legal proceedings against the Melbourne City Council. The case will argue that the council should be compelled to exercise its powers to address the ongoing harassment, bullying and intimidation of patients under public nuisance legislation.

Further details about the legal action against the Melbourne City Council is available at here

An overview to the HRLC's concerns regarding the new move-on powers for Victoria Police can be found here.