For decades, patients and staff of Melbourne’s Fertility Control Clinic, which provides abortions and other reproductive services, have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by members of a group called Helpers of God’s Precious Infants (HOGPI). Patients and staff are yelled at, abused, called murderers and whores. They are told all sorts of misinformation about reproductive health, horrifying imagery is regularly on display, and sometimes HOGPI members try to blockade people from entering the clinic.
There is nothing polite or peaceful about their behaviour, and the vast majority of Australians would be appalled by it. In fact, when a security guard was shot dead by an anti-abortion activist Peter James Knight a decade ago, HOGPI was back on the street the next day, harassing people. Needless to say, it is very difficult to treat patients in this climate, especially when much time is wasted trying to calm patients down after they have run the gauntlet of abuse to arrive at the front door.