‘Why I spent 15 years protesting at abortion clinic'
MARK Ross has spent the past 15 years out the front of Rockhampton's abortion clinic with his hands around a Bible.
For one day each week the 71-year-old "helper of God's precious infants" could be found on the footpath with a group of up to seven others, praying and handing out pamphlets to the women who entered.
Then 11 months ago Mark gave it up.
"We don't do it anymore, illnesses hit us and we just couldn't keep doing it," he said.
"There are still a lot of prayers going on, just not at the clinic.
"We feel strongly about what abortion is, not only for the babies but for the mothers as well."
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Mark moved to Rockhampton in 1980 with a strong pro-life position.
He soon took up the movement against abortion after moving to the city, and said he didn't want to let it go "unchallenged".
"We had some definite turn-arounds, the women didn't want to have their baby killed, they just needed to know someone was on their side," he said.
"Some become upset at us... but they were usually upset before they even realised we were there.
"We don't harass and we don't block the entrance way... we would stand on the footpath to the side where we wouldn't block anyone, and had pamphlets that we tried to hand out to people. Others would quietly pray."
Mark said he felt as though he had made a difference in his efforts, and believed he was there for the sake of the women who were pressured by boyfriends or their economic circumstances.
And according to Marie Stopes Australia CEO Alexis Apostolellis, Mark's story of protest is not unusual.
The organisation is responsible for running Rockhampton's abortion clinic, in addition to four other clinics in Queensland.
"The (protest) situation exists in every state. Everyone is entitled to their own view, however, we do not feel that approaching a woman who is attempting to access a medical service, and trying to change her mind about accessing it, is a legitimate form of peaceful protest," Mr Apostolellis said.
"Every woman has the right to access medical treatment without prejudice or harassment.
"Other states are putting into place legislative measures to prevent protestors from harassing or filming women attending a place where abortions occur. At this point in time, no such legislation exists in Queensland, however, we would support the development of safe access legislation."
Mr Apostolellis said the practice would contact clients to inform them of the knowledge of protestors outside clinics, and would make arrangements for staff to escort the women inside if necessary.
The CEO said the organisation was one of the only abortion providers in the region.