Police have for the first time used new powers to fine an anti-abortion protester outside a clinic in Civic.
The fine was issued to a protester who breached a protest-free zone on Friday morning, roughly a month since the new laws came into effect.
The powers are designed to protect women from being harassed, intimidated, obstructed, photographed, or filmed as they access Canberra's abortion clinic.
Based on a scheme introduced in Tasmania in 2013, the laws effectively create protest-free buffer zones around approved medical clinics, including the ACT Health building on Moore Street in Civic, where protesters have gathered for more than 17 years.
Women's groups welcomed the legislation when Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury first tabled it last year, arguing protesters were causing considerable distress and making patients walk through "a wall of people who were making judgments".
The laws were supported by Labor amid opposition from pro-life groups, who argued they were an unnecessary curtailment of the right to free protest.
Initially, protesters found inside the protected zones were to be informed of the new laws by ACT Health staff, and asked to move on.
If they remained in the area, police were to be called.
Little detail was given by police of the events on Friday morning, but an ACT Policing spokeswoman confirmed to Fairfax Media that a criminal infringement notice had been issued.
The maximum penalties are significant, with fines of up to $3750 for protests or other kinds of intimidation or obstruction in the exclusion zone.
The protesters do have an avenue of appeal open to them, and can dispute the criminal infringement notice in the ACT Magistrates Court.
There are more serious penalties for those who take video or photographs of people entering or leaving the clinic, actions which can attract fines of up to $7500, or six months in jail.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the protest-free zones were designed to protect women who "have made what is already a difficult decision to have an abortion".
"Since March 21 this year, protesting or behaviour that increases emotional distress or may prevent women from accessing legal and medically recognised health procedures has been prohibited within the defined protest-free zone between 7am and 6pm on business days to align with the opening hours of the facility," he said.
Protesters have argued they are not confrontational, and the vigils are peaceful. Anti-abortion material is often handed out.
The ACT Right to Life Association said last year they were not obstructing anyone, but simply "praying to hopefully raise the social conscience of people who may or may not be seeking an abortion".
Pro-life campaigners have been at the site regularly for more than a decade, including one vigil in March last year, which was led by Canberra Goulburn's Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse.
But the Women's Centre for Health Matters and Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT argued the right to protest should not hinder a woman's right to access health services.
Women's Centre for Health Matters executive director Marcia Williams said last year women were left feeling judged and ashamed, causing considerable distress.
"Anecdotally, we often get emails, we often have conversations with people that work in that building, and ... what we hear is they do feel considerable distress in response to having those people there. Women feel ashamed and judged when they're already feeling anxious," she said.
It was argued protesters should direct their attention to politicians, at the ACT Legislative Assembly, or Parliament House.