Anti-abortion activists are planning to start picketing the recently opened abortion service in Invercargill sometime in the next couple of weeks. According to a report (see image below) today in the weekly Southland Express, a spokesman for the group, Father Vaughan Leslie, a local Catholic parish priest, acknowledges that this may intimidate women but says he believes in democracy and the right of those who opposed abortion to speak out against it. Fr. Leslie promises to be peaceful and non-confrontational, but “very visible”. Not sure how non-confrontational gels with being “very visible” and possibly intimidating people seeking abortion care, though?

It’s interesting to read of this appeal to “democracy” or democratic values, and to note there is no mention here of the “naming and shaming” of abortion care providers that Fr. Leslie talked about a few weeks ago. Progress? Or just better PR? We hope that dangerous and misguided effort has been abandoned. ALRANZ, too, supports democratic rights and values, though we extend those to  the freedom of individuals to make their own choices about issues like abortion.

A group of pro-choice Southlanders are working on making sure pro-choice voices are heard in this next round of the skirmish. Follow us here, on Facebook and on Twitter (@alranztweets) or email us at and we’ll keep you up to date.

Meanwhile, a shoutout to the staff and leadership at the DHB who have not caved in to bullying and threats, and have kept the service running, to help make life just that little bit less stressful for Southlanders who need abortion care and who no longer have to travel to Dunedin or Christchurch for it. That said, Southlanders, it looks like the antis are determined to ensure your reproductive health-care decisions will come with as much stress as they can possibly muster.