EPISODE 14: "Now free speech has been killed as well"

For over twenty years anti-abortion protesters have picketed abortion clinics around Australia.

To combat this targeted harassment of women seeking safe and legal abortions, state governments have passed ‘safe access zone’ laws which create an exclusion zone around abortion clinics which protestors cannot enter.

Anti-abortionists argue these laws limit their free speech. Supporters of safe access zones argue these laws are vital to ensure the safety of women seeking health care.

When this law was challenged by anti-abortion protesters who had breached the exclusion zones, the High Court was faced with a balancing act.

How does the law balance the rights of women to access safe and legal abortions with the right to free speech and protest?



Dr Tania Penovic, Faculty of Law, Monash University

Dr Caroline Henckels, Faculty of Law, Monash University


Dr Melissa Castan

James Pattison

Further reading

Explainer: what are abortion clinic safe-access zones and where do they exist in Australia?

High Court delivers landmark ruling validating abortion clinic ‘safe access zones’

Music in this episode

Lee Rosevere - ‘Start the Day’

Lee Rosevere - ‘Waiting For the Moment That Never Comes’

Law topics

Constitutional law, health law, protest, freedom of speech, implied freedom of political communication, bill of rights, human rights

James Pattison