From time to time, and it seems more often in recent years, governments and people of influence try, and often succeed in implementing changes to legislation that are contrary to the laws and principles of the Kingdom of God.

HopeNet SA affirms that it is consistent with Scripture to take some action when such changes are mooted; to write letters, speak to politicians and join in marches and demonstrations as and when necessary.

The concern is not the maintenance of religious opinion or traditional behaviour and norms but what is true, good and helpful for individuals and society, based on the revelation by the Creator, that is, Scripture.

An example that required some action is the Health Care (Health Access Zones) Amendment Bill 2019, currently before the South Australian parliament. There is much that could be said about this Bill, but that is not the purpose of this article. Instead, the focus of this article is the integrity of one of the arguments to support it, and how it was addressed.

The Associate Legal Director of the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC), Adrianne Walters has said: “For far too long, women in South Australia have had to navigate the abuse of strangers just to see their doctor. The distress, fear and anxiety caused to patients and staff is unacceptable.”[1]  

When reading a statement like this it is easy to assume it must be true because Adrianne Walters is a senior figure in an influential legal firm: People are being abused, and suffering as a result. It is a strong argument supporting the Bill.

But is it true?

We need to ask this question of such statements that carry implied authority and therefore influence, especially if something inside us says “really?”.

So What Happened?

Well  there was something that said “really?”. I decided to pursue it.

I accessed the HRLC website, found an email address and wrote asking for evidence.

The response was brief – refer to a web page, which I did. The web page contained a lot of generalizations about harassment plus a reference to Research. I checked the Research and discovered it was conducted in the UK with effectively no reference to Australia and certainly no reference to South Australia.

I informed HRLC of my findings, suggesting they needed to speak to local (i.e. SA)  people to find out what was actually happening.

HRLC informed me they had spoken to the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition.

Combining my own experience with the correspondence from HRLC, I concluded that the original statement by Adrianne Walters has no supporting evidence. From that I concluded the statement itself is false.

So here was a situation where most likely politicians were being influenced by falsehood. That should be of concern, quite apart from any concern about abortion.

The next question was: what to do with this information? The answer in this instance was to communicate my findings and conclusion with my local MP, which has been done, in this case by email.

Summary

We all have a choice when it comes to social and political issues. Sometimes we can remain silent, but there will be times when we hear that inner voice “I have to act on this”.

What to do will vary according to circumstances, but in any case, always establish the truth. Get the facts. That may require some effort, but you’ll get there.

Having established the facts, take some further action. It doesn’t need to be dramatic or loud, but follow it through.

Appendix: Email correspondence related to this article (edited)

(As with any email trail, the most recent is at the top, so start from the bottom.)

To: HRLC

FYI: I conclude that Adrianne Walters has nothing to substantiate her claim.

From: HRLC

We’re a national organisation but also working in collaboration with the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition.

To: HRLC

I have read the information and saw no evidence from South Australia, or even Australia; only generalisations of ‘anger’, ‘fear’, ‘adverse impacts’ etc. and people ‘following patients … staring disapprovingly at women’. By the way, the cited research by Hayes and Lowe has effectively no reference to the situation in Australia. That, combined with my own understanding, causes me to conclude it’s not happening here, at least not to the extent that requires legislation.

And it seems the author(s) of the HRLC web-page consider those who pray to be rather nasty, self-righteous prigs whose motive is to condemn supposed immoral women. If so, it indicates no local research.

The absence of South Australian evidence and an apparent misunderstanding of motives is a failing by HRLC with respect to SA’s Health Access Zones Bill. If HRLC wishes to comment on local proposed legislation then it needs to investigate the local circumstances and comment accordingly.

From: HRLC [This is quite important but provided no evidence – WM]

You can find that information here: https://www.hrlc.org.au/news/2020/7/17/explainer-sas-health-access-zones-should-not-exempt-silent-prayer

To: HRLC

Your website attributes the following statement to Adrianne Walters: “Far too long women in South Australia have had to navigate the abuse of strangers just to see their doctor” causing “distress, fear and anxiety”

I find it difficult to believe that this has been happening in South Australia to the degree implied here, but if it is occurring it is of concern. Could you please provide relevant statistics and evidence or examples of instances of this behaviour?


[1] Statement made on the HRLC website.

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