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Oct 4, 2016

Christian Lobby funding defence of anti-abortion mother of 13

The Human Rights Law Alliance is a new legal front for the Australian Christian Lobby, and it is already taking on a big case.

Sally Whyte — Political reporter

Sally Whyte

Political reporter

The Australian Christian Lobby is funding the defence of a woman who was arrested for protesting outside a Melbourne abortion clinic through a new organisation called the Human Rights Law Alliance. Mother of 13 Kathy Clubb was arrested in August under new Victorian laws that make it a crime to protest within 150 metres of an abortion clinic.

The Human Rights Law Alliance, which was founded by the Australian Christian Lobby, has taken on Clubb’s case as part of its mission to “fight to ensure that Australian law guarantees all Australians the right to believe and live out their faith”.

Former chief of staff at the ACL and managing director of the newly launched Human Rights Law Alliance Martyn Iles told Crikey that Clubb’s case was one of several the alliance’s lawyers were working on.

Clubb wrote on her Facebook page on August 4 that she had been arrested for:

“… offering help to aborting mothers outside the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne and for seeking to draw the attention of the public and politicians to the issue of abortion and to the totalitarian restrictions being placed on a targeted group of Australians — members of the pro-life movement, especially the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants by the ‘Safe Access Zone’ law.”

She also said she wanted to take the case to the High Court and challenge the Safe Access Zone laws on a constitutional basis. The Victorian government passed Safe Access Laws last year, and they came into effect in May. The maximum penalty for protesting in the zone is 12 months’ jail or an $18,200 fine.

Iles said the alliance would help people like Clubb, who couldn’t afford to fund her defence on her own.

The HRLA, funded by private donors and with seed funding from the Australian Christian Lobby, is currently attempting to raise $120,000 through crowdfunding on the ACL website. It will be a not-for-profit, charitable body and does not have a team of lawyers on staff. “It’s an alliance network, we have allies that are lawyers and barristers to essentially do pro bono or very cheap work, and having put their hand up, they are in a pool of people who have different areas of expertise,” Iles said.

“It’s tight knit, but they are not directly employed.”

Iles says “quite a few” people have offered to help the HRLA, and at the moment it had about five lawyers are working on between 12 and 15 cases.

“Theoretically any case that has an direct or indirect link to freedom of conscience, religion and belief is eligible. Those are words are taken from international human rights covenants.”

Iles says the alliance has had two cases of “doctor’s conscience” in front of the Medical Board of Australia, and other workplace cases (where someone feels they have been adversely affected in the workplace because of their religious beliefs) have been settled out of court.

“We’ve got a university free speech case, where somebody has expressed a religious view at university and has been adversely treated by the university. That is being resolved internally at the university.”

The alliance wants to have fighting fund in place should marriage equality be legalised, in order to prosecute cases by small business owners who do not want to provide services to gay couples. Iles says that if marriage equality were legalised after a plebiscite, the alliance would not challenge same-sex marraige itself, but he believes there would be other legal areas in which the freedoms it seeks to protect could be under threat.

So far the alliance has stuck to assisting in existing cases, but it could move to “proactive litigation” — beginning cases itself — in the future.

12 comments

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12 thoughts on “Christian Lobby funding defence of anti-abortion mother of 13

  1. leon knight

    How the heck does a mother of 13 find time to protest on God’s behalf on the footpath, why isn’t she at home looking after her tribe of precious infants, and reading her bible to them all (if she is not to busy working on No.14)….

    1. Edna Prince

      She may have found that she can delegate most functions to the eldest children – as was traditional.

      1. ozobken

        She’ll be doing a lot of that when she’s serving her 12 months in jail – responsible parenting at its finest

  2. PhilM

    She is free to believe whatever she wants. She does not have any right to harass other people who don’t subscribe to her particular fairy tale.

  3. simon hunt

    The HRLA is specifically based on “Alliance Defending Freedom” from the USA. The ACL flew their senior legal counsel, Jeffrey Ventrella to their April conference. At the time, Shelton said “”If this is where it’s going that it’s no longer tolerated that you can hold the view that marriage is between a man and a woman then obviously we’re going to need legal representation to protect those freedoms and that’s why we’ve invited ADF to our conference.” The ADF runs most of the anti-LGBTI cases in the USA (the ‘bathroom bills’ etc); assists state & federal lawmakers with drawing up anti-LGBTI legislation; and sends lawyers to other countries (such as Belize) in which homosexuality remains criminalised in order to assist lawmakers attempting to keep things that way.

  4. Paddy Forsayeth

    What we need, in this supposed secular society, is freedom FROM religion as opposed to OF religion.

  5. billie

    Why does Kathy Clubb think her exercise of her religious belief outweighs the health and well being of the women using the clinic.

  6. AR

    There are laws that prohibit drunken/offensive behaviour in public and mentally unbalanced people deemed to be a danger to themselve and/or others.
    Why is religious nuttery in public not similarly deemed unacceptable?
    Those suffering from religious affliction or other disabling delusions should seek treatment asap – if they don’t want to do so at least keep in behind their walls.

  7. Srs21

    Her mother should have held her water.

  8. Anniejean

    There’s always a new approach to the sky fairy delusion

  9. margaret handasyde

    As usual the religious/religions are thoroughly convinced that they, and only they, know the truth about anything really. An extraordinary form of arrogance!. Having had a large degree of social influence, they are now playing the victim card as society moves on. Actually quite amusing to watch but it does tend to turn your stomach.

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