Emilee Body had heard much about the protesters outside Albury’s Englehardt Street abortion clinic. Feeling nervous as she approached it, she turned a corner and immediately saw them.
She remembered stories of women being harassed, being filmed and even being handed plastic foetal dolls as they entered the clinic.
Ms Body was stressed enough as it was, and did not want to suffer the indignity of their protests. But as her car entered the clinic’s driveway they started to approach. She locked eye contact with them and panicked.
Zipping past and parking out the back, Ms Body rushed into the building. Once inside, a doctor and nurses reassured her, apologising for the protesters outside. And they also gave her the option to reconsider her choice and leave.
Having made her decision, the procedure was performed under general anaesthetic and afterwards Ms Body went home to rest, supported by her close friends.
Four years later, the issue of abortion law reform has flared once again, with Albury MP Greg Aplin asserting: “abortion can have profound physical or psychological effects and side-effects”.
Upon hearing Mr Aplin’s words, Ms Body said she felt compelled to send a message to NSW politicians who will debate this year whether to decriminalise abortion and enforce safe access zones around clinics, therefore putting an end to the Englehardt Street protesters:
“I have no profound physical or psychological effects or side-effects,” Ms Body said.
“I made a calculated and well thought-out decision that I would never change.
“Yes, some women may experience these effects, but a lot of women won’t, and just because something can be harmful doesn’t mean it should be banned.”
And Ms Body said she is proof that not every woman who has an abortion in a controlled environment suffers long-term side-effects. Three years later, the 27-year-old gave birth to a baby boy in December 2015.
Before her abortion, she had fallen pregnant while on the pill. Her personal and financial situation was totally unsuitable to raise a baby, she said.
As politicians return to Parliament in Sydney this week, some will have in mind the findings of a Lonergan Research poll in 2015 that interviewed 1015 NSW residents about abortion.
It found 83 per cent of Liberal and National party voters supported enforcing safe access zones around clinics as Victoria has already done.
Ms Body said she wants politicians like Mr Aplin to listen to women like her.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but if someone’s made that decision, don’t try and get in a woman’s way to change it,” she said.