Abortion reformists fuming after MPs scrap creation of 'safe zones' around clinics

Abortion reformists are fuming after politicians scrapped the creation of 'safe zones' outside abortion facilities because MPs were seemingly asleep at the wheel during the vote.

An element of the new abortion law would have allowed hospitals and clinics to apply for 'safe zones', where protesters couldn't interfere or interrupt patients or staff.

But protesters will still be allowed outside abortion facilities, thanks to Tuesday night's blunder. And while the Justice Minister has no plans to revisit Parliament's vote, the Greens are holding out hope for a solution.

The Abortion Legislation Bill had its second reading in Parliament on Tuesday night, and up for debate were the 150 metre safe zones that could be established around abortion clinics on a case-by-case basis.

But it didn't make it after confusion during a vote on the amendment which appeared to take MPs backing it by surprise.

No one is more surprised that the safe zones clause has been dropped than ACT Party leader David Seymour - and it was his amendment.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "I hate these odious ogres who protest outside abortion clinics. I also didn't come to Parliament to make laws allowing ministers to ban free speech in whole areas."

Those who have long fought for legal access to abortion are deeply disappointed.

Terry Bellamak, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association, told Newshub: "It was quite surprising Parliament would make that kind of mistake. This is their job. This is their only job."

Bellamak is concerned if abortion law reform passes, protests will ramp up outside clinics and that more women will be affected.

"My frustrations are nothing compared to how this is going to affect those trying to receive abortion care."

Justice Minister Andrew Little confirmed to Newshub earlier on Wednesday that there are no plans to challenge the ruling. 

"I'm not convinced the numbers are there," he said but admitted the blunder was disappointing.

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice Jan Logie (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) was in the Chamber on Tuesday night, and she was simply too slow off the mark to call for a personal vote.

Asked whether she messed up by failing to call a vote, she said "It doesn't serve anyone to focus on finding blame at the moment. The focus needs to be on getting to the solution”. 

The Greens aren't saying what that solution might be - they are still figuring out what's even possible, but there are thorns at every turn and they risk opening up the legislation again.

It could all be for nothing. David Seymour claims that while he didn't have the numbers last night, but he does now