For several years in Thames, the busybodies from Voice for Life have intruded on the privacy of patients of the Thames Hospital abortion service. Every week, they showed patients of the service how they judged them and found them wanting, by waving gory signs and passing around plastic foeti.

Since August, supporters of women and pregnant people’s right to be left alone when seeking abortion in Thames have counter protested.

On 11 August 2016, Thames Coromandel District Council granted both ALRANZ and VFL permits to hold demonstrations each week. The permits allow holders to “peacefully demonstrate” at the specified time and place, provided the demonstration is at all times “non-violent and non-intrusive”. If those conditions are not met, TCDC has the right to withdraw the permit at any time.

ALRANZ has honoured the conditions of its permit.

In the past few weeks, the protests and counter protests have taken a disturbing turn. A pro-choice protester writes:

Here’s what happened to me 2 weeks ago:

I spent 2 hours standing beside one of the men, who is about 6 foot tall, and much bigger than I am, while he spent most of the 2 hours trying to push me off the footpath onto the road, by consistently leaning his body against mine. I asked him several times to move out of my personal space, he responded by closing his eyes, speaking to Jesus, and leaning harder. I had to be supported by another woman to not fall from the footpath onto the road.

At one point, when I stumbled a little, he moved his foot over to where mine had been and ended up with his leg between mine at the back, still pushing trying to unseat me. He only stopped doing that when one of our people filmed him in action (which we have if you want to see it.) Most of the 2 hours his whole body was pressed firmly against mine, while he either muttered in prayer, talked about how “the worst guards at Auschwitz were the women guards and how cruel women can be” or talked about how he’s talked with “abortionists” who told him how they “rip the arms and the legs off, and then they mush up the torso and sell the body parts to science.”

The following week, another man of their group paraded around in front of us with a little zip lock bag with 4 tiny baby doll heads in it saying “they rip the heads off their babies…..with heads or without heads…”

Follow the LINK to our Facebook page to see the video taken at the tail end of the incident.

The Crimes Act 1961 defines assault as “…the act of intentionally applying or attempting to apply force to the person of another”.

The video evidence shows the VFL protester appears to violate the terms of its demonstration permit. His actions appear to breach the requirements that the protest be non-violent and non-intrusive, and follow all applicable laws.

Allowing VFL’s behaviour to continue or escalate would be a danger to ALRANZ protesters and members of the public.

ALRANZ has written to TCDC, asking them to do their duty and enforce the conditions of VFL’s demonstration permit by withdrawing VFL’s permit. We are waiting to hear from TCDC.