A woman has been arrested and issued a move-on notice for breaching the peace at a religious anti-abortion rally in Sydney.
In video taken from the event as she is led away by two police officers, the woman proclaimed “this should not be happening in 2023”.
“I came along here today to have my say about what happens to my body,” she said.
“I was approached by multiple men surrounding me, accusing me of doing the wrong thing by being here today.
“I’m here to speak for every woman that does not have control over her body. This is what happens to women in Australia.”
NSW Police confirmed the protester was apprehended on Sunday afternoon as the “Day of the Unborn Child” rally moved through Sydney’s CBD.
A Police spokeswoman said no charges were laid and she complied with a direction to leave the area.
Hundreds of marchers were seen singing the Australian national anthem and holding signs including “Baby Lives Matter” as they made their way from St Mary’s Cathedral to Parliament House.
The march, led by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher, is organised by pro-life organisation the Life and Family Institute of Sydney and run annually.
Ahead of the event concern, organisers of both the rally and planned counter-protests expressed concern about the possibility of violence, following outside a Sydney church on Tuesday.
The University of Sydney Women’s Collective released a statement on Saturday night, cancelling their planned counter protest.
“This decision has not been made lightly, but has been made collectively as we believe that it is the right thing to do for the safety of our collective,” organisers said.
“It has become increasingly clear that we cannot ensure the safety of the action and that the threat of violence would instead work to drown out our political message.
“This protest is no longer a protest against the usual attendees … It is a protest against a violent group of people whose only intention is to cause harm.”
Those rallying began marching from St Mary’s Cathedral at midday and travelled past Parliament House.
The protest passed just 25m from a Macquarie Street abortion clinic.
Rally organiser Paul Hanrahan wrote on the event’s Facebook page on Thursday calling for calm amid fears it will become another flashpoint.
“The police have contacted us and [said] they have particular concerns, especially after the clashes between the ‘rainbow rights’ group and hundreds of counter-protesters outside a Mark Latham event at Belfield Parish last night, as well as events at Hyde Park last weekend,” he said.
“[Police] have assured us the security of our group and our right to hold our event is their primary concern, and they will do everything in their power to ensure that.
“We are not there to engage with any protesters but to carry our cross.”
The announcements by both rally and protest organisers comes after a violent clash outside a St Michael’s Church in Belfield on March 21.
The violence between activists for religious group Christian Lives Matter and pro-trans rights groups attended the church to protest Mark Latham‘s speech on parental rights and religious freedom.
Three men – aged 34, 41 and 41-years-old – were charged following the incident and will appear before court next month.
The Coalition for Rainbow Rights and the University of Sydney Women’s Collective were among the counter protesters.
NSW Police said they would work with groups at the anti-abortion rally on Sunday to keep the peace.