Prayer Campaign Update: Sidewalk Advocacy
With New South Wales going to polls today, itâ€™s a good time to reflect on the benefits of witnessing outside abortion providers and conversely, the potential damage that would be done by the introduction of buffer zones, such as those proscribed by Tasmaniaâ€™s legal system. Buffer zones, also known as exclusion zones or bubble zones, have been mooted in Queensland, Victoria and the ACT, but the biggest push may come if New South Wales sees active abortion advocates gain power.
Prayerful vigils take place regularly in Australia in all states, including Tasmania, where the sole pray-er risks arrest each week. While no numbers of babies saved are available for this country, there is growing evidence of the great benefits of witness: this Life News report gives a summary of the last 40 Days for Life campaign in Australia and New Zealand.
And according to the organisers of 40 Days for Life, 10,000 babies in total have been saved in the 8 years since they began their organised campaigns around the world; they have released a lovely video to mark the occasion.
According to this article from Life Site News, “Former Planned Parenthood workers have said that the no-show rate for abortion appointments goes as high as 75% when people are peacefully praying outside;” friends from Albury and Melbourne tell me that in their experience, prayer witness rattles and agitates abortion workers.
Even abortion advocates canâ€™t deny the impact prayerful witness makes on abortion-minded women: this mainstream media article emphasises the popular view that sidewalk counsellors and pray-ers intimidate women, but balances the equation by providing interviews from experienced life advocates, some of whom have been witnessing for over 40 years.
The article mentions various exclusion zones in use in the US - they are usually stated as a particular distance from an abortion business entrance, but there has also been a ‘floatingâ€™ zone enacted in Colorado, which prevents sidewalk advocates from approaching within 6 feet of clients.
Most buffers in the US restrict the actions of pro-lifers by prohibiting distribution of literature or engaging pregnant mothers in conversation; this is far less restrictive than the Tasmanian law which prohibits peaceful prayer vigils, and silent witness under section 9â€™s ban on “besetting, harassing, intimidating, or any prescribed behaviour.” (Italics are mine.)
This brings me to the main point of this post: a reminder of the spiritual battle we are engaged in, and of the urgent need to pray for New South Wales today and in the future. We do not want to see abortion decriminalised in any more states in Australia - the states where this has happened have seen abortion, in Â practical terms, legalised on demand, until birth - Â and by no means do we want to see the introduction of buffer zones, which will surely follow the model of those in Tasmania.
Please pray today, and also register for our National Prayer Campaign to stop the decriminalisation of abortion in new South Wales.