Why abortion protester is refusing to be released

 

An anti-abortion campaigner charged with prohibited conduct within a suburban Brisbane's termination clinic's safe access zone is refusing to sign his bail documents because they stipulate he can't return to the facility.

James 'Jim' Joseph Dowling was charged while holding a "vigil" outside the Greenslopes clinic.

The Catholic Worker Movement member today appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court which heard he had refused to sign police bail documents.

Acting Magistrate Paul Byrne asked the self represented Dowling why this was the case.

Jim Dowling leaving court after being charged with removing the Sword from the Cross of Sacrifice at the Toowong Cemetery on Ash Wednesday in 2017. (AAP Image/Mark Calleja)
Jim Dowling leaving court after being charged with removing the Sword from the Cross of Sacrifice at the Toowong Cemetery on Ash Wednesday in 2017. (AAP Image/Mark Calleja)


"You got what everyone who gets picked up by the place wants, kind of, in that you were offered bail but it says that you refused to sign the bail," he said.

"Bail means that … you're free to be out in the public where you can get your ducks in a row, organise legal advice if you want it, let your wife know where you are, take the sick mother to the hospital.

"The opposite to bail is really jail."

Dowling said he objected to the bail conditions which would have prevented him from returning to the vigil which finishes at 5pm tonight.

"Otherwise I'd feel obliged to go back," he said.

In December 2018 Dowling became the first person to be charged with entering an abortion clinic's safe access zone under Termination of Pregnancy legislation introduced earlier that month.

Jim Dowling protesting outside the Convention centre, during an Arms Conference, Southbank. Pic Jono Searle.
Jim Dowling protesting outside the Convention centre, during an Arms Conference, Southbank. Pic Jono Searle.

 

The laws create picketing exclusion zones of 150m outside abortion clinics and make it a criminal offence to engage in conduct that relates to terminations and would be likely to deter a person from requesting or getting an abortion.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of one year jail and a person can be liable even if someone else does not see or hear the demonstration.

Dowling has a long history of activism and not just against abortion.

In 2004 he attempted to place then federal MP Peter Dutton under a citizen's arrest for his support of the Iraq War in parliament. He was fined $200 for public nuisance.

Jim Dowling protesting outside Peter Dutton's Office in Strathpine.
Jim Dowling protesting outside Peter Dutton's Office in Strathpine.


Mr Byrne decided to adjourn Dowling's case until tomorrow when the matter of bail would be revisited with the same condition he not revisit the clinic.

"You won't then feel at a moral level you're letting your friends down," he said.

Originally published as Why abortion protester is refusing to be released


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