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Forty days and forty nights, pro-life group peacefully praying beyond ‘safe access’ zone

Fr Adrian Sharp: “We did the maths and we are outside the exclusion zone.” Queensland’s new abortion laws that came in to force last October, include a “safe access” zone provision, which lawmakers insisted was necessary to protect women entering abortion clinics from harassment.

IN Brisbane, people are praying peacefully for an end to abortion – 50m from breaking new laws.

Members of 40 Days for Life – an international community based campaign – are holding a 24/7 vigil during Lent, just outside the 150m “safe access” zone surrounding an abortion clinic in Brisbane’s inner city Bowen Hills.

“We can still see the facility,” Fr Adrian Sharp, one of the 40 Days for Life organisers, said.

“We did the maths and we are outside the exclusion zone,”

Queensland’s new abortion laws that came in to force last October, include a “safe access” zone provision, which lawmakers insisted was necessary to protect women entering abortion clinics from harassment.

The 40 Days for Lifers – who are dedicated to keeping community attention on the pitfalls of abortion – have found a rallying point next to a busy bus stop about 200 metres from the Marie Stopes Bowen Hills clinic.

They have a police permit to hold a peaceful prayer vigil there and also take the opportunity to chat to commuters about life matters, including the implications of Queensland’s new abortion laws.

Fr Sharp said the 40 Days of Lifers prayed “for hearts to change and abortion to end”. 

“We’re praying specifically for the workers in the abortion mill that they will see what they are doing and stop, and convert,” he said.

“We are also praying for all who go there – the mothers, the fathers – that they will have a change of heart and will not end the life of their baby and they will find some other way to let the baby live.”

The first breach of the “safe access” regulation was dealt with in court on March 13, when Catholic pro-life campaigner, Jim Dowling, 63, faced a Brisbane magistrate for protesting within 150m of an abortion clinic.

Mr Dowling was arrested outside a Greenslopes clinic on December 26 last year with a sign that read: “Human rights for all human beings”.

In court, he refused to enter a plea, claiming he had done nothing wrong. 

However the magistrate entered a not guilty plea on Mr Dowling’s behalf, fined him $300 and ordering a conviction be recorded.

Mr Dowling’s wife Anne Rampa is due to appear in court to face the same charge.

Fr Sharp (pictured) said he believed the protesters showed great courage. 

“I know of other protesters who politely sit and block the doorway – that’s another strategy – and they get into trouble with the law too,” he said.

“But that’s not what 40 Days for Life is about or what it does. We are simply a peaceful, prayerful presence.” 

The 40 Days for Life vigil finishes on Palm Sunday.  Details can be found on the @40DaysForLife Facebook page.

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