Australia to deport American anti-abortion activist
Oct. 02, 2015
SYDNEY (AP) — An American anti-abortion activist is expected to be deported from Australia, after the nation's highest court ruled Friday that he posed a threat to public order amid concerns he could incite violence against women.
Troy Newman, president of the Kansas-based anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, was detained at Melbourne Airport on Thursday after trying to enter Australia even though officials had already canceled his visa.
The battle to prevent Newman from coming to Australia for a speaking tour began earlier this week, after a lawmaker sent a letter to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton saying Newman could pose a threat to community safety.
"I am most concerned that Mr. Newman's call for abortionists to be executed could lead to threats or the commission of acts of violence against women and medical professionals," wrote Terri Butler, a member of the opposition Labor Party.
Immigration officials then revoked Newman's visa.
Newman, who co-authored a book that suggested doctors who perform abortions are committing a crime egregious enough to warrant the death penalty, denied that he posed a threat to anyone.
"The revocation was based on a pile of lies, including the idea that I promote violence," Newman wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday. "My 25 year history of peaceful, prayerful action speaks for itself."
Newman also posted a video that showed him arguing with an airline employee in Denver, who had refused to let him board a flight to Los Angeles en route to Melbourne because Australia had canceled his visa. He and his wife, Mellissa, later traveled on another airline to L.A., where they boarded the final leg to Melbourne without incident, Mellissa told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
After he was detained, Newman appealed the government's decision to Australia's High Court in Melbourne. His lawyers argued their client had never incited violence and the revocation of his visa was therefore flawed.
High Court Justice Geoffrey Nettle disagreed, ruling that Newman posed a threat "to the good order of the Australian community." The judge said Newman willfully disobeyed Australia's immigration laws by boarding the flight to Melbourne.
"He does not come to this court with clean hands," Nettle said.
Newman had planned to deliver a series of talks organized by the anti-abortion group Right to Life Australia, and was expected to discuss the controversy over the handling of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. The U.S. women's health organization has faced scrutiny since an American anti-abortion group released secret recordings it claimed showed Planned Parenthood employees illegally selling fetal tissue for profit.
Planned Parenthood, which offers patients contraception, sexual disease testing, cancer screenings and abortions, has said a tiny fraction of their clinics provide fetal tissue for scientific research, and said it had never broken any laws.
Butler, the Labor lawmaker, said Australians are a welcoming people, but don't take kindly to those who flout the law.
"To think he is above the law gives us an insight into the sort of person we are dealing with," she told reporters after the court's decision. "We don't welcome extremists into our country and we don't welcome extremism."
Newman's case marks Australia's second recent high-profile visa controversy. Last week, the Australian government warned troubled R&B singer Chris Brown that he is likely to be denied a visa because of his criminal conviction for assaulting pop star Rihanna.