Australian test case challenges laws against pro-life speech

Editor’s note. This appeared at Secular Pro-Life and is reprinted with permission.

Graham Preston

Graham Preston

Hat tip to Australian SPL supporter Malessa B. for bringing this to our attention.

Like its counterpart in the United States, the Australian abortion industry despises pro-lifers who attempt to persuade potential customers outside abortion facilities. Rather than taking the liberal approach of responding to the speech it dislikes with speech of its own, the abortion lobby demands government censorship of the pro-life message. They claim that censorship zones (also known as “bubbles”) outside of abortion facilities are necessary to protect women from harassment, but the real target is peaceful speech that reveals the humanity of the unborn child.

Here’s the message that Queensland resident Graham Preston was tried and convicted for:

Mr. Preston displayed that message outside a Tasmania abortion business. Tasmanian law imposes a censorship zone of 150 meters—for our American readers, that’s 164 yards, or roughly one and a half American football fields. Obviously, a woman having second thoughts about an abortion cannot possibly have a conversation with someone who is forced to stand that far away.

For the crime of showing a photo of a baby in the womb and quoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he has been ordered to pay a $3,000 fine. He plans to appeal the ruling and bring a test case for the free speech rights of pro-lifers under the Australian constitution, and will not pay the fine. He is willing to go to prison if it comes to that; not an empty promise, considering he’s done it before.

His supporters point out that “charges against former Greens leader Bob Brown were dropped after he was arrested for allegedly protesting in a logging exclusion zone,” and Mr. Preston’s conviction represents a double standard. I am not familiar enough with Australian politics to know if the abortion lobby is more or less powerful than the logging lobby there, but in principle, different causes should not receive different treatment.

Mr. Preston traveled to Tasmania to protest because abortion is illegal in his home state of Queensland. But naturally, abortion apologists are pursuing legislation to change that—and while the language of the bill has not been finalized, our source tells us that a censorship provision is being considered. If the bill goes forward, Mr. Preston’s statements about the right to life could, overnight, go from being an accurate statement of the law to a cause for his arrest!