Legislation to exclude people from within 150 metres of abortion facilities has passed in South Australia, preventing pro-life ministry and threatening the freedom to silently pray.
Last week the upper house of State Parliament approved Exclusion zone legislation in South Australia.
FamilyVoice Australia is disappointed but not surprised by the passage of legislation.
“Not only will this prevent simply expressing care and concern, but the very freedom to pray silently is now in the balance,” said FamilyVoice spokesman David d’Lima.
“Incredibly, efforts in the lower house to explicitly allow silent prayer were not successful,” he said.
“If anyone prays silently within 150 metres they may be charged under the legislation, and if the matter goes to court, the judge may well conclude Parliament deliberately declined to allow silent prayer and therefore it is not lawful,” he said.
“How pathetic that the state would intrude upon the heart and mind of people concerned only for the welfare of our most vulnerable.”
Hon Tammy Franks, who sponsored the bill’s passage in the upper house, claimed the legislation was needed in response to health workers and patients experiencing “harassment, intimidation, and threats while trying to access or provide abortion services”.
But in the absence of any significant problem, the legislation solves a problem that does not exist, David d’Lima said.
“Ms Franks is perhaps referring to the unease of conscience that occurs when staff or patients realise someone is praying for the unborn.”
“It is grossly hypocritical of MPs who commence each sitting day with prayer, but now deny that freedom to those seeking to promote life.
“Further, the legislation will prevent the provision of sensitive interaction with women and men attending abortion clinics.
“Without harassment, such life-affirming communication gives pause to a decision that may have been hastily considered, under pressure and in the absence of alternatives.”
A new party promoting family values has been established by former Family First senator Bob Day.
Day served as a senator for South Australia from 2014 to 2016.
“The nation has social and economic problems that it wants to solve and social and economic goals it wants to achieve, however looking to politicians, bureaucrats and regulators to solve these problems and achieve these goals is not going to work”, said Day.
Day said the world is changing profoundly, especially technologically, such that politicians, public sector bureaucrats and regulators are hopelessly ill-equipped to manage it.
“The internet has become the new wild west with power concentrated in the hands of tech giants who destroy competition and privacy and misuse the information they collect. Any suggestion these behemoths can be trusted to ‘act fairly’ is laughable.
“We cannot rely on politicians and public sector bureaucrats to protect us. There is only one institution which can combat the lawlessness of the digital jungle and its predators and that is the family. The family is the best place to learn who to trust and who not to trust; who to communicate with and who not to communicate with.
“As for personal freedoms– free to speak, free to believe and free to work, I have been championing these causes all my life”.
The Australian Family Party opposes abortion, euthanasia and prostitution.
“We believe in the right to life and are distressed at the killing of 100,000 unborn babies in Australia each year,” reads its policy on abortion.
“The Australian Family Party believes the lives of unborn children are precious and must be fought for. The unborn should be afforded all the rights of human beings, protected from terminations justified on economic, personal or psychological grounds.”
Rejecting euthanasia, the party says that it “does not provide the dignity its advocates claim”.
“Human beings are built to live and survive, and the deliberate ending of a life prematurely removes value and worth. Euthanasia is the wrong way to treat those who are old and sick.”
The party says it is committed to supporting palliative care and “supposed ‘safeguards’ for euthanasia legislation do not work”.
While it also holds that “legalising prostitution only promotes Australia as a sex trafficking destination.
SA Liberal MLC Michelle Lensink has upset many South Australians by requiring her controversial abortion bill to be fully debated on Remembrance Day, 11 November.[i]
Australians have long revered Remembrance Day as a solemn time to remember those who have died in battle during wartime. Debating, on this sacred day, a bill to allow the killing of unborn babies up to birth is unbelievably insensitive.
RSL State President Cheryl Cates said that planning to debate proposed abortion laws on Remembrance Day is “absolutely inappropriate”.
The practice of remembering members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty was inaugurated by King George V in 1919. He called for all activity to stop at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, for 2 minutes’ silence to be observed. The silence would remind people throughout the British Empire of the silence that fell on the battlefields of Europe when the hostilities of the First World War ended when armistice with Germany was signed.
King George V on the first Remembrance Day, 11 November 1919
Initially called Armistice Day, it was renamed Remembrance Day after the Second World War. It is celebrated today in numerous Commonwealth countries, including Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the United Kingdom and Australia. Similar observances are held in numerous other countries including France, Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Russia and the United States.
In Poland it became Independence Day, when the Polish people again became self-governing after 123 years of occupation by Prussia, Austria and Russia. Speaking in November 1918 of the challenges ahead, Polish Marshal Józef Piłsudski said, “only by making a joint effort can we decide on to what extent we will fortify our freedom, and how strongly we will stand on our own two feet”.[ii]
The Poles remember at 11 am on 11 November - calling it Independence Day
King George V also spoke of freedom in a press statement released from the Palace on 7 November 1919. He said (in part):
Tuesday next, 11 November, is the first anniversary of the armistice, which stayed the world-wide carnage of the four preceding years, and marked the victory of right and freedom.
I believe that my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of that great deliverance and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.
To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of this feeling it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities.
During that time, except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable, all work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.[iii]
Red poppies grow wild on the WW1 battlefields
We should remember tomorrow that the freedoms we enjoy in Australia are in part due to the men and women who have laid down their lives in sacrifice.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.[iv]
Peter Downie - National Director
[i] Elizabeth Henson, "Abortion bill debate on Remembrance Day ‘inappropriate’: RSL State president Cheryl Cates", The Advertiser, 2 November 2020, https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/abortion-bill-debate-on-remembrance-day-inappropriate-rsl-state-president-cheryl-cates/news-story/fad2dfaff4f142145548eff3b110d977?from=htc_rss
[ii] Dagmara Leszkowicz, "Day of freedom: when Poland regained its independence", The First News, 11 November 2019, https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/day-of-freedom-when-poland-regained-its-independence-3211
[iv] From “For the Fallen”, a poem by Laurence Binyon.
If you’ve seen my weekly emails over the past few months, you have probably heard of Queensland University student Drew Pavlou. The university suspended him in July to the end of the year so he could not sit his final exams or take up his elected university senate seat.
His crime? He led a peaceful protest against the Chinese government’s undue influence on university policies. He is seeking to appeal in Queensland’s Supreme Court, but this can take a very long time.
You may also have heard of Dr Peter Ridd, formerly a physics professor. James Cook University sacked him after he pointed out serious flaws in Great Barrier Reef research by some of his colleagues. He is currently seeking to appeal his unfair dismissal in the High Court.
Then there is Senator Claire Chandler. She was accused of offending transgender people in a newspaper column last July and a subsequent email. The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner said she was potentially guilty.
Chandler had said, correctly, that biological women are up to 30% more at risk of injury when competing against transwomen. She wanted to keep women’s sports, toilets and change rooms for those born female.
The complaint against her was ultimately dropped when she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement. Others who lack the protection of parliament may not be so lucky.
Free speech in this country is under threat today as never before. The Weekend Australian reported yet another case on 24 October. The University of Tasmania Law Review has rejected a paper by Professor Patrick Parkinson, Dean of Law at the University of Queensland.
He was critical of the Tasmanian transgender laws that caused Senator Chandler such grief.
The Tasmanian University Law Review chose referees who said Professor Parkinson’s paper should be rejected. They claimed he used “offensive” terms such as “biological female” and “opposite sex”, and he failed to consider activist and social sciences research.
One reviewer even wanted the paper rejected because it would not “advance human rights”!
James Allan, another law professor, read the two reviewers’ reports. “Both, in my view, failed to do the job expected of referees,” he said (The Australian, 27/10/20).
“Politics trumped the open expression of views that were presented well above the usual standards required to have a paper accepted by a law review.”
James Allan went on: “The core problem then is that as our universities have become increasingly politicised, and faculties of social science, arts and law ever less ‘viewpoint diverse’ … the whole peer review process has become less and less trustworthy. Put more bluntly, this amounts to yet another inroad into free expression.
“… If Parkinson’s experience were a one-off, we could all shrug and move on. But it is not,” he said.
If Professor Parkinson – a respected legal expert – cannot say that the Tasmanian laws are flawed, how can any of us speak the truth publicly about harmful legislation? You, your friends and your pastor are increasingly at risk.
That is why FamilyVoice is campaigning to uphold our fundamental freedoms of speech, association, religion and conscience.
We’d value your prayers and, if possible, a donation at this critical time.
Peter Downie - National Director
A family GP was indefinitely suspended from medical practice in 2019 over sharing Christian beliefs online.
Jereth Kok, a married father of two, has responded openly to FamilyVoice’s written questions about the charges that have been laid at his feet by the Medical Board of Australia.
Q1. Can you give us a brief run-down of what has happened?
I was investigated by the Medical Board after they received two anonymous complaints about things I had said and shared on social media. The complainants are not people who I have ever met. They had searched through and taken exception to my views about a broad range of political topics.
Initially, nine months went by before I was even told about any complaint or investigation. The Board ultimately hired a private investigator to run a dragnet over the internet for material written by me.
One Friday afternoon last year, while consulting with patients, I was suddenly given notice that I was going to be summarily removed from practice to protect the “public interest”. I attended a hearing the following week, at which I was not asked any questions; I was in there for about fifteen minutes. My registration was suspended, meaning that I could no longer work, could no longer provide care or even speak to my patients.
I’ve told the story in more detail in this video interview.
Q2. So what kind of material has gotten you in trouble?
In terms of subject matter, I am in trouble for my views about abortion, about sexuality and so-called “LGBT” issues, and that whole issue of doctors performing so-called “gender transitions” on people.
The material is very diverse, and comes from a 10 year period. It includes political and theological discussions with other Christians on Bill Muehlenberg’s blog (the most recent from 2012). It includes posts and comments I’ve made on my own personal Facebook page, and “memes” and articles that I’ve shared there; including articles by the American political commentator Matt Walsh, and the satire site Babylon Bee.
I’m also in trouble for an opinion piece that I wrote for Eternity magazine on the topic of transgenderism, back in 2015. This one stands out from the others, because it was public and has me wearing my doctor hat. All the rest was written in a personal capacity, for a small audience of friends and family. None of it was spoken in a vacuum—there is always a background of current political events and debates.
Q3. Was there any criticism of your medical practice?
No complaint had been made by any patient or colleague, and there was ultimately no concern about the care that I had provided to anybody. I’ve practised medicine for over 15 years, and looked after many people who would identify as “LGBT”. None of them has ever complained about rudeness, discrimination, etc. When you are a professional, rule number one is you treat everybody the same regardless of what you might personally think of their background, life choices, habits, political affiliation, criminal record, and so on. I’ve never had any difficulty doing this.
Even so, this did not stop the Board from alleging at the outset that I was providing compromised healthcare to “LGBT” patients. They later had to admit that this allegation was unsubstantiated.
Q4: How has the Medical Board and the court process treated you? How have you felt through the case?
The process is impersonal and opaque. You’re dealing with faceless people—bureaucrats and administrators who aren’t in touch with day-to-day clinical practice. You are not told what’s going on. They give you tight timeframes to respond to their demands, then keep you waiting months before they reveal their next move. There is a presumption of guilt.
Despite a legal obligation to provide regular updates, I haven’t received a single update in 30 months of investigation. It’s been over a year since I have heard anything directly from the Board about what they’re doing with my case.
Another thing that is incredibly frustrating is that a whole year has gone by since my suspension, and I still have not had an opportunity to properly respond to any of the allegations that led to my suspension. In summary, I feel that the whole process lacks any semblance of due process or natural justice.
Q5. Can you give us a sense of what kinds of things you said and shared online? Was it offensive material?
Well I am of the view that offence is taken, not given. These days, people can take offence at pretty much anything you say, and especially when it is to do with these kinds of controversial topics. My concern is not to insult people, it is to voice the truth; and not just any truths, but truths which are foundational to civilisation. The value of human life, the structure of the family, our existence as male and female.
I like to say things straight. I don’t believe in sugar-coating things. Not when we’re talking about things that are monstrous. Abortion is monstrous – it is violent, deliberate homicide on an unfathomable scale. Our nation obliterates several classrooms of pre-born children every single day. It’s so horrific that really the only way to cope is to push it out of conscious thought; on the rare occasions it is spoken about it gets dressed up in dishonest euphemisms like “reproductive choice”.
It’s similar with the “sex change” topic. This is so incredibly destructive, of both individuals and society as a whole. Children are being indoctrinated with fanciful nonsense via programmes like “Safe Schools”—that people have the “wrong body”, or the sheer idiocy about there being fifty different genders. Mentally confused teenagers are put on powerful drugs, usually when they are too young to comprehend the ramifications. Perfectly healthy bodies are permanently altered, right up to the point of surgical disfigurement.
So, yes, I have voiced my mind about these issues, and I have shared articles and memes that resonate with my thinking. It’s all happened away from work, in my own personal time, and with the exception of the article for Eternity, directed to a narrow audience. And to date, nobody has actually stepped forward to claim that they’ve been personally harmed by any of my opinions.
Q6. Was there anything you said that you should not have said?
Yes. A couple of my comments included discourteous labels such as “crooks” (referring to doctors who do "sex-change” surgery). I’m happy to admit that calling people “crooks” behind their backs isn’t terribly nice, and I could have chosen my words better.
Looking back, I should have been more careful with visibility. Perhaps some of what was set to “public” visibility should have been set to “friends only”. The thing about Facebook is the “share” function doesn’t work unless the post has been set to “public”. Much of what I’ve gotten in trouble for involves articles and memes, and I want my friends to be able to hit “share” with these. I never dreamt that publicly sharing a Matt Walsh or Babylon Bee article would be career ending; hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Q7. What do you say to the serious allegation made by the MBA, that you have advocated for genocide?
A few months ago, David van Gend kindly wrote an article which deals accurately with this allegation. It involves a comment made on Bill’s blog in 2012 which has been grossly misconstrued. Yes, I speak of genocide, but I am referring to genocide by abortion. Bill had written about Western sponsorship of abortions in poor countries, and how this amounts to rich westerners decimating poor people of other races. I agreed with his position, and reinforced it with a blunt description of how the West is running a programme of race-based extermination via so-called “family planning”. The purpose of my comment was to deride this despicable agenda—this is very easy to see.
But somehow, they have flipped it 180 degrees and claimed that rather than condemning the genocide, I am advocating for it. Just imagine: a pro-lifer wanting to use “family planning” (abortion) to carry out a genocide!
Q8. Could it have been an innocent or careless mis-reading of your comment?
That is possible. People have given me different opinions. Some have said that it reflects a subconscious prejudice—‘you’re a right-wing religious bigot, so of course you must be pro-genocide.’ Others have speculated that they knew very well what I was saying, but wanted to muddy the waters, to make my legal situation more difficult. We’ll probably never know.
Q9. It was also alleged that you “call for capital punishment” for doctors who do abortions. Is this true?
Again, this allegation is based on a single comment. The context was Troy Newman, who is an American pro-life activist. He wanted to come to Australia but wasn’t allowed. At the time, there was controversy about something Newman had written:
“In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people … Consequently, the entire nation has the blood-red stain of the lives of the innocent upon its head.”
I made a comment on Facebook which was phrased as a question, not a declaration. I asked, ‘What is wrong with executing serial killers?’ Now, they do condemn serial killers to death in America. We don’t here. I wanted to provoke people to question why they are okay with a very serious punishment for killing, but when the victims are pre-born babies they get outraged at the mere suggestion. Why this moral double-standard? My comment did not include the word “doctors” or “abortionists”. It certainly did not say, let’s reintroduce capital punishment here and send all the abortion-performing doctors to the gallows.
What they’ve done is take a comment I made, one that is abstract in character and not even relevant to the country that we live in, and put a blood-thirsty spin on it.
Q10. You’ve been suspended from practising medicine. How has this affected you personally?
It meant a long period of time without a job and income, and a whole lot of uncertainty. That was obviously tough on me and my family, though God has provided for our needs. It was hard being suddenly torn away from my workplace and patients. I can only guess at how difficult it must have been for many of the patients who had come to trust and depend on me as their GP over a decade. I get furious when I think about the way that my abrupt removal from practice may have harmed them, emotionally and possibly even physically. Continuity of care is vitally important in medicine.
The experience has certainly driven me to trust God more—to put my confidence in his goodness, his sufficiency, and his promise to vindicate those who suffer injustices in this life.
After spending such a long time in one line of work, I think it has been healthy to think though other interests, other career options. It was not my childhood dream to become a doctor, and while I’ve made an effort to do the job well, I’ve often wondered about doing something else.
Q11. Have you been well supported through all of this?
We have wonderful friends and a great church family. When my situation became known, scores of people contacted us to convey sympathy and support. Several have donated money to help us out. People who we have not seen in over a decade got back in touch. It was quite overwhelming; you suddenly become aware again of that gigantic web of Christian connections out there.
But, of course, COVID-19 came along and isolated us from people and church. It has been hard. In Melbourne we have been under lockdown for over 6 months. Right when we are really craving the company of the people of God we are not allowed to physically gather.
Q12. How have other doctors reacted? Have any gotten in touch with you?
Numerous doctors contacted me when they heard the news—including several who didn’t know me but went out of their way to track me down. A couple of doctors’ associations sought me out. People expressed shock and dismay. They could not believe the Medical Board was cracking down so severely on freedom of expression. Many have resorted to using aliases on social media, to protect themselves, I guess.
Many doctors also reached out to tell me similar stories. I am now aware of more than a half dozen other doctors who have been in trouble with the Board for expressing their opinions about similar topics, away from their practice. They have been after a doctor for speaking at a pro-life event, a doctor who campaigned against “Safe Schools”, several who have said things on Twitter against abortion and gay marriage, one who left a comment about euthanasia on a website, one who said that gender transition therapies are damaging for children.
Most or all of these doctors are religious people. They are a mix of GPs and various kinds of specialists. They have all been put through investigation, some have been given warnings, some have had conditions placed on them, like having to undergo “sensitivity training”. One has had his medical career effectively ended, like me.
It is horrible to learn that all this is happening, but there’s a small amount of consolation in knowing that my situation isn’t totally unique; there is obviously something systematic going on.
Q13. Why do you think so many doctors are being accused in like manner by the Medical Board?
I think it is clear that tolerance of traditional religious views about things like sexuality and gender is rapidly vanishing. We have seen what has happened to people like Israel Folau, Margaret Court, JK Rowling and Brendan Eich. Even a senator was threatened with an anti-discrimination tribunal in Tasmania simply for saying that it isn’t fair for men to compete in women’s sports. The worrying thing about what happened to me is that it shows you do not have to be famous to get in trouble—even nobodies can be targeted for “cancellation”, for decade-old conversations on an obscure religious blog. Someone I know, also a nobody, recently lost his job in the corporate world because he declined to participate in an annual “pride” event.
We are at the business end of the “long march through the institutions”. It is getting increasingly costly to hold unpopular religious beliefs.
Q14. Is there anything people can do to help?
Thank you for asking. Please pray – for guidance as I look for other ways to make a living over the next few years; for protection over my wife and kids; for the lawyers who are going to do the hard yards to defend me when I face trial on charges of misconduct. Pray also that whatever the outcome, the name of Jesus will be magnified because he is the judge of all the Earth.
I will almost certainly need to raise funds to cover my legal expenses. When that time comes, I would be grateful if people could contribute. We do not have a spare hundred thousand dollars sitting around! Whereas those prosecuting me have a virtually unlimited supply of funds.
Links to other articles about Dr Kok’s story
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