23 July 2011 – Commemoration of murdered security guard Steve Rogers at Fertility Control Centre, 16 July 2001

On 23 July, pro-choice activists commemorated the tenth anniversary of the murder of Steve Rogers, security guard at the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne, by anti-abortion extremist Peter Knight on 16 July 2001. For the last six years the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights has organised a defence of the clinic on the fourth Saturday of each month to counter harassment by the so-called Helpers of God’s Precious Infants – see, for example, http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/clinic-engage.avi/view and on Melbourne Indymedia (this includes a downloadable flv clip of a physical confrontation on one occasion, see also http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/28july-ph_steps_engage.avi/view).

A range of speakers included members of Radical Women, who have supported the campaign from its beginning, and representatives of people with disabilities, the transgender community, a feminist mothers group, as well as Kieran from Albury Choice, who explained what has been going on there (see http://www.bordermail.com.au/news/local/news/general/sheets-out-in-abortion-faceoff/2234554.aspx).

Police were aware of the significance of the date and were present in some numbers, escorting the Right-to-Lifers to and from their ‘vigil’ and intervening decisively at the provocation offered by one elderly individual.

Anthea addressing the rally

Click on thumbnail to view video

The footage here is necessarily selective, and much has had to be omitted, including unfortunately the address by Alison Thorne of the Freedom Socialist Party (but see the 22 August 2009 report mentioned above). On the other hand, a low-resolution streaming version of the whole event (65 minutes) is available at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/16179764

From Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights:

Ten years ago Steve Rogers was killed at work, defending the Fertility Control Clinic. On July 16, 2001, Peter Knight, an anti-abortion terrorist, stormed the clinic’s waiting room. A terrifying melee ended in Rogers’ death. The Fertility Control Clinic remains the target of an ultra-right movement intent on revoking Victoria’s legalisation of abortion and stripping back women’s choices. Every month, on the fourth Saturday, reproductive rights activists defend the clinic and its neighbourhood from a contingent of anti-choice crusaders.

At the July defence, pro-choicers will commemorate this anniversary, remember Steve Rogers and say “Never Again!” Come rally for full reproductive rights for all women and join in building a movement that will stop the anti-abortionists and secure real choices for women.

Added 28 July – There are photos from the rally and of a memorial service held later by clinic staff on the Freedom Socialist Party Facebook page here.