Helpers of God’s Precious Infants told to ‘help’ less

For years now the anti-abortion group “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants” (HoGPI) have been a presence outside the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne.

The Clinic which provides abortion services to women has been complaining for years about anti-abortion protesters congregating outside their premises and harassing women.

A security guard at the clinic, Steve Rogers, was murdered by an anti-abortion crusader in 2001. Six months ago, a man was charged with threatening to kill another security guard at the clinic.

Melbourne City Council has agreed that police can now fine people under council by-laws that previously had not applied to the protesters.

“They’re (the protesters) more inclined to be concerned with their actual cause rather than the effect that they have on people. It’s a simple issue of creating a real nuisance and impeding someone’s progress. They can still hold the posters or pamphlets out for people to take but they can’t block access to the gate or stand in front of them.” –Inspector Chris Duthie, from Melbourne East police station,

“Protesters were peaceful and prayerful and offering help to women. We know that people are always going to complain about people making it visible what’s going on inside that building, so we know that people don’t like being reminded that babies are being killed there.” -Tanya O’Brien from the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.


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34 Responses to “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants told to ‘help’ less”

  1. weezil Says:

    Note to commenters:

    SHAO suffered a database corruption and had to be restored from backup. Comments posted after 25/1/2007 0948 AEDT were not present in the backup and will be restored manually from alternate archival sources as available.

  2. weez Says:

    Free speech is a fundamental, but your speech rights don’t exceed others’ rights to privacy, safety, liberty and so on. The ‘fire/crowded theatre’ test applies here. If an exercise of speech rights abrogates others’ rights, it may reasonably be limited.

    I’m just not so sure that a $1000 fine for harassing a woman entering a clinic is anywhere near enough. If the intrauterine godbotherers call in assistance from the well-financed nutbag brigade in the USA, they might be happy to pay $1000 per incident of ‘saving a baby.’

    The nut here is that if you don’t agree with abortion, don’t have one.

  3. Suki Says:

    I get their arrogance, but I don’t get the naivety of the HoGPI.

    They must truly believe that a woman has not thought about her decision deeply and over time. That she has not had any intervention or talked to her friends or family or partner or a professional service. They must think that she has not had her pregnancy confirmed by a GP, discussed with the GP and then referred to a specialist service. This specialist service will have discussed the difference between a local or general anaesthetic and then advised the woman accordingly. They will discuss the need for a support person to fill out a form agreeing to collect the woman and what that person can expect and do if there are post-operative complications. They must think that there hasn’t been an appointment with a specialist nurse to discuss the procedure, the side effects, the need for a time of sexual abstinence and any future contraception options.

    These do-badders are so deluded that they are unaware that all the possible options have been considered by the vessel carrying God’s Precious Infants before they arrive at the abortion clinic and the decision is made. The only thing left for the HoGPI to deliver is a guilt-trip. Shame on you HoGPI. Use your energy to advocate for work-based childcare and a work-life balance, if you are serious about helping women to continue with their pregnancies.

  4. weez Says:

    The naïveté is for the media, Suki. The fly on the wall in the HoGPI (Helping orchestrate Grievous Psychological Injury) ‘war room’ will hear much more frank and direct strategy discussions.

  5. Marcel White Says:

    The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants are not as ‘naive’ as you think. During their 13 or 14 years of daily presence outside the East Melbourne abortion mill, many lives have been saved. Women have turned around at the last moment, and regardless of your own views on abortion, you cannot deny the truism that if they had not turned around then that 1st birthday party (which the Helpers are inevitably invited to share) of that child would not have happened.

    As a regular attendee of The Helper’s vigils, I can assure you that the heroes involved in organising the group’s activties will not be intimidated by council by-laws. It is a life and death matter. There is no need ‘for frank and direct strategy discussions’, their strategy is simple, go to where the killing is happening and try to help those sad mothers at the last minute before they make the biggest mistake of their life.

  6. Suki Says:

    I really don’t know what to say to you Marcel.
    There is no space for any ‘grey’ area in your dichotomous belief is there. There are no boundaries between your rights and the rights of a woman to self-determine. You are incapable of seeing past your beliefs and your romanticised notion of baby, mother and women in general. That we all are hard-wired to be parents, but we just don’t know it yet.

    You have a right to all the belief-system that you can afford. The going-rate now is $1000 a time.

    Just so we are clear; you and your helping friends will be the only ones breaking the law on every day that you get fined if you harass women or try to stop them from entering the building.

    Abortion is legal, make it safe.

  7. Marcel White Says:

    Although one could make the case that abortion is still illegal in Victoria, I will concede the point. Abortion is, practically speaking, legal. We agree Suki. You seem to have constructed a peculiar positivist nexus (peculiar at least for a progressive) that because abortion is legal it is therefor moral.

    I am sorry that you do not have a ‘romanticised view of baby and mother’. Motherhood is something that is inherently romantic. In fact, I can identify more readily with you when you speak of the love you have for your daughter (‘girl-child’ in your parlance). That is natural, that is exceedingly beautiful, that is ‘romantic’.

    My prayer is that, despite our obviously polarised views, we may be able to reflect upon each other’s deeply held personal convictions and emerge better people for the exercise. I would have thought that is the noble purpose behind publishing a blog… Have a pleasent evening. I will return (subject of course to your editorial discretion 🙂

  8. Suki Says:

    There will be no more preaching the controversy Marcel.

  9. weez Says:

    It’s downright creepy when Marcel starts pretending to be your friend, Suki. Moreover, it’s downright disingenuous. Marcel is not your friend- and never will be.

    I’ve maintained for some time that even engaging with people like Marcel in your space validates their position if just by ‘giving them a seat at the table,’ as it were.

    This is an argument the extreme xtian right simply can not- and will not- win, so their task is indeed to ‘preach the controversy.’ This legitimises their arguments if by their mere appearance in public debate with reasonable and well-informed pro-choice activists. Some anti-choicers think that a mere preponderance of mentions of their spin in the mainstream ‘media echo’ and now in the comments of blogs like SHAO, is a victory in and of itself.

    Allowing the anti-choice brigade to waste your time in replies is indeed a fine little victory for them, Suki… and they get airtime on YOUR nickel. Marcel has exploited your sense of fair play… for well and truly long enough.

    There is no argument, no compromise, no debate whatsoever to be had with anti-choicers.

    Therefore, due to an executive decision by the SHAO Board of Directors, there will be no more Marcelations, no more free airtime, a no platform policy for anti-choicers on Suki Has An Opinion.

  10. bastet=^..^= Says:

    blogging for choice
    Current mood: contemplative

    why is this important??? is life and death good enough for you.? and that is of everyone involved. i could offer stories of happy adopted kiddies, unhappy adopted kiddies, women for whom giving birth and being responsible for a child was the making of them and those who just couldn’t cope, couldn’t get support and totally fecked it up. but i won’t bother, what i want to say is that an arbitrary ruling is going to feck people up a great deal of the time, because it removes the responsibilty of examining theri lives, where they are at and what they should do next, which means they will never really know how they feel about bringing a child into our world. what kid wants that hanging over them? when it comes to life and death I know i do not want any government involved, that is how wars happen, i want people to take responsibilty, to say yes the choice was mine and i live with that for good or bad. mistakes will happen but adults do that. a nanny state means we live our lives oblivious to the effect we have, cause the government regulates it for us, it stops us thinking. when it comes to kids all thinking caps need to be activated. every child needs to be chosen, what better right to start life out on is there? take repsonsibilty for life and death, if we don’t we will become government tamed sheep. and the reason governments kill are the least justifiable of all!
    PRO CHOICE ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!

    PS: can i say i applaud weez and the SHAO board for deleting space for anti-women crusaders to preach!!!!

  11. Suki Says:

    You are so right regarding the nanny state. It’s as much government control as it is personal abrogation.

    As for no more “preaching the controversy…”
    I listened to Professor Daniel Dennett who gave me food for thought. He says,
    “In fact if I were a devious sort of person and had been hired to design the most impenetrable shield I could dream up to put between science and religion so that scientists would just keep their hands off religion, I think I couldn’t improve on what was in fact erected. Which was a gauzy curtain of sanctity which repels the best scientists but encourages some second-raters to go in there and do third-rate science and that just drives the other scientists away. You don’t want to spend your time dealing with second-rate, third-rate stuff and so you turn to other fields. We shouldn’t fly blind into the 21st century, we should get a good grip on this, and that means asking the tough questions and making sure that the answers we get aren’t just plausible and reassuring but are true.

    When scientists are baffled they say so and then they try to get unbaffled, they don’t celebrate their bafflement. That is a fundamental difference between religious attitudes and scientific attitudes. Yes, science is up to its neck in mysteries and puzzles of every sort and it can confess to ignorance, and incomprehension of all sorts of phenomena. That’s a genuine confession. Now let’s get down to work and let’s try to see if we can’t come to understand this. And we never, in the scientific community, celebrate incomprehension as a good thing. That’s a standard trope in religious communities.”

  12. Dave Says:

    Pro-lifers murdering people. Ah, the irony.

    And Marcel, why can’t pro-lifers who seem to be overwhelmingly religious just let people exercise their (supposedly god given in your eyes) free will and choose? Either way, stay out of it and if what you believe is true, your god will judge them when they die.

    So called pro-lifers have no right to interfere in the lives of others. So stop doing it.

  13. weezil Says:

    Good to see you, Dave. 🙂

    FYI, don’t anticipate any replies from Marcel, at least not on SHAO.

    Where the xtian right-wing and I part company is on the entire concept of authoritarianism. Many religions start from the position of humans as innately flawed, all in universal need of guidance toward goodness. Of course, in such a structure, someone has to be the keeper of the light. May as well be their invisible friends.

    I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I believe we’re innately good until stuffed around by various claimants to management of our lives. 😀

  14. Christopher Says:

    I’ve recently read an argument that, to my knowledge no right-to-lifer will even attempt to answer.

    I personally think its the perfect answer those like Marcel who would force their religious morality upon others.

    Have a read & see what you think.

  15. Dave Says:

    Indeed Weez… I agree.

  16. Graham Bell Says:

    Marcel White:
    You are entitled to your opinions as this is still – well, sort of, for the time being – a country where one’s own opinions can be expressed fairly freely.

    But …… be aware that it is a very short, very steep and very slippery slope into the fanaticism that kept the Nazis, the Communists, the Red Guards and the perverters of Islam in power.

    I have never ever met a fanatic who did not believe that the abominations they had committed were not completely justified. Never. Not one.

    Look deep into your own soul and make sure you are not following them on the same path to damnation.

    You see, when you said ” …. the group’s activties will not be intimidated by council by-laws. It is a life and death matter. …” I really did believe you ….. because I have seen that sort of mindset before ….

    Commitment to a cause is fine but make very sure you don’t fall into fanaticism and all its attendant evils.

  17. Suki Says:

    Thank you Graham for coming past and caring for Marcel.

    I’m not feeling that generous and I am done with him!

  18. weezil Says:

    I don’t think I’d be within my rights to blockade Marcel’s church on Sunday morning, even on cause that I am fully certain and convinced that talking to imaginary friends is a mental illness.

    Being anti-choice is an insidious disease, inclusive of the illness being able to conceal itself from the afflicted, even warping the sufferer into the mindset that their symptoms are actually divinely ordained strengths. Talk about Narcissistic Personality Disorder!

    Clearly, these people need help… but am I the guy to organise an intervention? Probably not. I believe that you have a right to care or not care for yourself as you see fit.

    One thing for sure, Marcel’s right to express doesn’t exceed any woman’s right to operate her bits in any way she chooses.

    Here’s hope that Marcel & his sick, brainwashed mates in HoGPI are among the first to cop some of those $1000 godbothering fines.

    Too bad the rangers can’t cite Marcel’s imaginary friends.

  19. kartar Says:

    I work virtually next door to the clinic (which is also crawling distance from chief headquarters of some of the pointy headed imaginary friends brigade – AKA the Catholic Church). For about six months as I walk past the Clinic and see the protesters, my blood boils. Furiously angry at how they can regard it as okay to intimidate women at what is an emotional and incredibly trying time. But strangely enough, I have never felt the urge to kill any of them. Gun them down, plant a bomb amongst them, nothing like that.

    But for them? Well, they value my life less than the life of a bunch of cells just, because I don’t agree with their position- and they’d happily kill me on the off chance it’d stop a woman choosing to control her own reproduction. Must have missed that exception to the 6th Commandment… or the part of the Bible where one life is more valuable than another.

    Now, in light of this new finding, I might start having my lunch down there (there is a lovely seat in the park opposite) with the Melbourne East cops on speed dial. Can’t hurt to help out our friends in law enforcement.

    Oh and Marcel, whilst you can’t post, I am sure you’re reading this – if you do pop down then I will be the tall, bearded man dressed in black and sitting on the park bench. You’re welcome to try and interfere with my right to protest. Very welcome.

  20. weezil Says:

    kartar, were Melb an easy commute, I’d be the guy next to you on the park bench with a jar of mayo and some pickles in case you’ve forgotten to put any on your sammich… and the Melb East copshop on thought activated Bluetooth speed dial… and a digicamcorder.

  21. Dave C Says:

    Some random thoughts:

    On the banning of Marcell
    The point of argument and discussion is to reach clarity.
    Life is too short to keep going over the same arguments which can never be resolved.
    I suspect the inability to reach consensus – such as between Suki (long live Suki) and Marcell stems from differences in people’s integral values and identity. I don’t believe these can never be changed with words, philosophical arguments and discussion. To try, is to waste time.

    So perhaps the only thing you need to say is:
    “Marcell we have heard, reflected, understood, internally evaluated your ideas and arguments, and integrated them into our own pictures. You can rest assured, that some of your ideas will have helped shaped ours.”

    “So now that that is done, unless you’ve got any more constructive stuff to add to help us with our discussion and understanding, fuck off.”

    “You’re inability to add to the conversation is having the same effect as placing a Grade 1 student in a Grade 6 class, and forcing the teacher to teach at the lower student’s level.”

    “It’s stunting our growth.”

    The nanny state.

    You crazy Anarchists you (Chomsky-like anarchists, not Sex Pistols-like anarchists). 🙂

    I don’t know. Sometimes I just can’t see the people as that clever.

    You give people a vote and they vote for John Howard, and plasma televisions and tax cuts. But they vote against welfare, extra schools and university places and multiculturalism.

    Crappy people think short term and only for themselves. Good governments think long term and include other people.

    but also (it occurs to me)

    Crappy governments think short term and only for themselves. Good people think long term and include other people.

    Anyways, enough rambling…

  22. Dave C Says:

    Banning of Marcell
    I was reading another post and saw weezil point out a Marcell argument as a “straw man”.

    With Marcell banned, how will others learn to defend themselves from religious arguers like Marcell, if they no longer can learn from the deft techniques of Suki and Weezil.

    To answer my own questions:
    I suppose the answer comes down to what Suki wants this blog to be about: Constructive discussion on the abortion issue or A training ground for free thinkers. Both noble missions, but not my call.

  23. Suki Says:

    Dave C,
    I have banned Marcel as allowing him to stay, and state and restate the same belief-based story acknowledges him as having something to bring to the discussion, when in fact he has brought it again and again, and it remains nothing of substance.

    In banning Marcel, I remind him that women (this woman in particular) have power.
    In banning Marcel I remind women that they too have the power to say to someone “Go away from me now!”

    This is as much about feminism as it is about reproductive rights. In my mind the two are inextricably linked.

  24. weezil Says:

    Dave, as Suki says, Marcel wasn’t advancing the discussion. He was simply regurgitating. He wasn’t participating, not talking with anyone, just talking AT them- and soaking his bitter curdles with Christocentric ad-hominem.

    It really is an argument Marcel can’t win. It’s one that in fact can’t be debated. No one has any standing to make decisions about bearing a child but the mother herself. This is The Point Marcel Won’t Acknowledge– because it extinguishes all his claims in one swipe.

    Marcel’s tack is that if he can’t win, he’ll just make as much of a nuisance of himself as possible, like a petulant child who has just been told he cannot ride his tricycle in the middle of the street… and who then demands chapter and verse justifications of why his rights are being violated…

    Arguing with Marcel doesn’t advance anyone’s cause but his. It doesn’t teach budding feminists how to debate. However, it does waste a lot of the grrrrrrls time, which is better spent lobbying government for good reproductive rights policy.

  25. Dave C Says:

    I woke up this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I’ve had some time to ponder. Forgive my ramblings, but I’d like to take the case for allowing Marcel to comment on Suki’s site.

    Please understand also, that I’ve haven’t read the (great) site for a long time (so I probably don’t get how annoying Marcel is).

    And I grant you:

    Arguing with Marcel doesn’t advance anyone’s cause but his. It doesn’t teach budding feminists how to debate. However, it does waste a lot of the grrrrrrls time, which is better spent lobbying government for good reproductive rights policy.

    is a fucking good argument (which may of course already negate all of my thoughts).

    But anyway….

    Reasons to let Marcel comment on the site.

    1) If he’s typing comments on your site, he’s not out the front of some abortion clinic harassing women. (unless he has a laptop with a mobile connection)

    2) He’s not going to learn anything new by not talking/communicating with people who have different views to him. Shutting him out just causes his beliefs and ideals to fester in silence.

    3) If he has to at least read Suki’s post before writing a comment, something of her sage opinions may sneak into his psyche and change his arguments

    4) Being around people who have different opinions/value frameworks/conceptions of the world to him, reminds him that there are people with different opinions/value frameworks/conceptions of the world to him.

    5) Being around people who have different opinions/value frameworks/conceptions of the world to us, reminds us that there are people with different opinions/value frameworks/conceptions of the world to us.

    6) Even though Suki/Weezel et. al may learn nothing from Marcel, and Marcel may learn nothing from Suki, there are many people who read the comments and can see their own opinions and thoughts (together with rebuttals) reflected in the discussions. This will help them navigate themselves and their own feelings.

    But, now to take the other side of the argument…

    Why Marcel shouldn’t stay on the site

    1) The trouble with the world is that the idiots are cock-sure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Hence, you put an idiot next to an intelligent person, and as the idiot says “I have the answer” and the intelligent person quantifies and rationalises, it looks like the idiot has the answer while the intelligent person has no idea.

    2) If you place a person who refuses to budge (Marcel) next to a person who might budge (me – because I like to look at all sides of the argument) the only way consensus could occur is if I adopt Marcel’s view. Because he refuses to move he wouldn’t adopt my view point.

    Good reasons not to allow someone who chooses not to participate fully.


    Though if it be admitted:
    At the end of the day, I don’t really care if Marcel can stay or not. I just like the sound of my own typing…..


  26. Dave C Says:

    In banning Marcel, I remind him that women (this woman in particular) have power.
    In banning Marcel I remind women that they too have the power to say to someone “Go away from me now!”

    I’m reading and replying to the comments in reverse.

    Mmm. Very powerful. Very true.

  27. Suki Says:

    I take your point that banning someone will not advance discourse.

    I also note that you acknowledge that as Marcel types here he is not doing other things. The same holds true for me. As I state and restate the self-determination argument and he states and restates his belief in god owning human life, and his call to help god to own human life, he keeps me tied up and where he can see me.

    At some point (now approximately two years on from Marcel’s first visit to SHAO) I have come to the realisation that I give his belief-system “life.” Every time I engage with him I am giving his belief-system legitimacy by the mere act of engaging with it.

    No, I take my cue from the “brights” of Professor Dawkins’ world and am now refusing to legitimate preaching the controversy.

  28. Dave C Says:

    Yeah. At the end of the day, our time is limited. We are all mortal. We are all going to die. Let’s not waste your time with trivialities, but live each day to the fullest.

    Also, given that you only have a certain amount of time to spend, if I had to choose between reading a new post by you or your reply to a comment by Marcel, I would choose the former.

    Your arguments also bring to mind the idea of framing. In having God placed into the argument, it frames the discussions in a certain way. For example, when we argue about God, other possible options – such as (philosphical) arguing from more real viewpoints, or going off on an unexpected tangent – are not given voice.

  29. Suki Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful introspection Dave. It has prompted me to consider why I blog and altruism seems to not be in the mix.

    Having said that, creating a blog on blogger takes less time than a load of washing. So all of us are free to get out of the laundry and into the blogisphere, even Marcel.

  30. Dave C Says:

    A pox on your thinking.

    You can be powerful – as you are. You can do things which disappoint people – as Marcel no doubt will be. And still be altruistic.

    Read on…


    I think altruistic acts are just ones which conform to the following principle:

    The act creates more good (insert criteria for goodness here) for other people than they do for the agent.

    Compare this with:
    commerical acts – where the act creates as much for the agent than it does for other people, and
    theft/violence/corporatism/exploitation – where the act produces more good for the agent than it does for other people.

    I think your blogging is altruistic, for the following reasons.

    It brings more good to other people than it does to you.

    For example, my conceptions of feminism and women’s rights have gone from fuzzy to far more concrete and fleshed out. This is a good thing (my knowledge of the world is richer and greater – which brings me both happiness and makes my relationships with women much better). Now multiply this effect by the number of your readers.

    It also changes the world for the better – which will bring more happiness to your child, and my nephews and nieces, and their children, and their children.

    Think of the happiness/profit/goodness blogging brings you. Some of this is:
    it allows you to express your opinions and enrich them by doing so
    it expresses your frustration and makes you feel validated
    it makes you feel part of a community
    it allows you to express your creativity (writing, photos and image selection/creation)
    (I’m guessing these from my own experience)

    The happiness you gain is far outweighed by the happiness you bring to others.

    Hence, your blogging is altrustic.

  31. Suki Says:

    I thank you.

  32. Dave C Says:

    I thank you too.

    The bits that got me seeing things from a new perspective were:

    his call to help god to own human life, he keeps me tied up and where he can see me.

    His tactics speak of power and oppression.

    In banning Marcel, I remind him that women (this woman in particular) have power.
    In banning Marcel I remind women that they too have the power to say to someone “Go away from me now!”

    After all my thoughts and ramblings, I think this is the correct solution. I see the discussion between you and Marcel as a power struggle – him trying to get you into his way of thinking (by using repetition of arguments) you trying to get him to see it in your way of thinking (by using creativity, thought and writing skills).

    You invited him to share your thoughts (he didn’t need to come here). He forced his thoughts upon you (you can’t escape his comments).

    The only possible way to end it is the above. Kudos.

  33. Dave C Says:

    It has prompted me to consider why I blog and altruism seems to not be in the mix.

    I think the word you may be after in this sentence is not altrusim – but “total inclusion of everyone, every motive and everything”.

    Which is sensible. For example, I don’t try to read every single book in the library. I exclude the ones I don’t think I’ll like – ie Mills and Boons etc – and only include the ones I do – sci-fi. This leads to much better and more satisfying reading.

  34. Sysadmin Says:

    Just a wee note for anti-choice propagandists; Suki Has An Opinion employs a ‘No Platform’ policy for religio-nuts and those who would force their imaginary friend’s rules on women. Get lost, you won’t be published, no matter how long your screed or how many times you attempt to post. Get your own website.

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