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Abortion protester set to fight Vic govt

AAP logoAAP 16/12/2016 Jacqueline Le

The Victorian government could have a battle on its hands that's "bigger than Ben-Hur" over accusations its ban on protesters going near abortion clinics is against the Australian constitution.

Kathleen Club, 50, is accused of harassing people at an East Melbourne clinic and is charged with prohibited behaviour within a safe access zone.

Her defence lawyer says they plan to fight the charge on the basis it is against the Australian constitution.

"There is a constitutional issue which will be agitated," her defence lawyer told magistrate Denise Livingstone on Friday.

"It impermissibly impinges with an implied right."

Safe access zones around Victorian abortion clinics came into effect in May after parliament passed legislation which banned protesters from harassing people within 150 metres of such premises.

Under the Safe Access Zones Act, it is an offence to communicate about abortion with people entering or leaving services in a designated in "a way that is reasonably likely to cause distress or anxiety".

Clubb became the first person to be charged under the new law after she allegedly approached people walking into the East Melbourne clinic in August.

The 50-year-old does not deny being at the clinic.

"Essentially there is no contest," her lawyer said.

"Certain conduct was admitted within the access zone. The question is whether that conduct constitutes prohibited behaviour."

Ms Clubb's defence says their legal challenge will pit them against the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office.

They also intend to notify all the states and territories, and the Attorney-General, he said.

"You want it to be bigger than Ben-Hur," Ms Livingstone said.

The matter will return to court for a contest mention in April.

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