Fraser v Walker - Defending Life in Victoria

Case Type: Freedom of Speech (political communication) 
Status: Lost in the Victorian Supreme Court

Michelle Fraser is a pro-life woman because she has been personally affected by the tragedy of abortion.

Michelle says that she was “lied to” about the life of an unborn child, so she wants other women to know the truth: that an unborn child is a living human being. She especially wants this to be known by expectant mothers who may be considering an abortion.

That is why Michelle stood on on a Melbourne footpath in the vicinity of an abortion clinic holding images of a dead foetus and the words, “This is your choice” and "blood money."

A police officer fined Michelle, charging her with the criminal offence of “displaying an obscene figure in a public place.”

Lawyers affiliated with the Human Rights Law Alliance became involved after Michelle was convicted in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, challenging the decision in both the County Court and on appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Lawyers put the argument that the image was not obscene, being comparable to shocking images of a political or health warning nature widely distributed around the same time. They also argued that the prohibition on obscene figures was invalid insofar as it unduly burdened the freedom to communicate on political matters by reason of the implied freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution.

The Supreme Court of Victoria nonetheless upheld the finding that the image was obscene because it was “disgusting” and that its prohibition was reasonable having regard to the purpose of the law concerning obscenity.

Click here to read the Supreme Court judgment.
Click here to read our blog on the case.

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