Pro-life supporters have forged ahead with prayer vigils outside a Civic abortion clinic in the weeks before exclusion zones banning protests outside the building are set to be finalised.
The protesters have ramped up their gatherings outside the Moore Street entrance to the Dr Marie clinic in Civic as part of the global 40 Days for Life movement, which advocates for the eradication of abortion, in the lead-up to Easter.
It comes just weeks before laws which were passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly last October banning protests on footpaths and streets immediately surrounding the ACT Health building are enacted following a six-month implementation period.
ACT Right to Life president Bev Cains said more than a dozen protesters had attended a long-running weekly prayer vigil outside the clinic last Friday, while another group had congregated on Wednesday as part of more regular protests held for the 40 Days for Life campaign.
She said group members had continued to gather outside the clinic because they were aware the implementation period meant the prayer vigils were still legal.
"There haven't been any dramas because I think we've always been a peaceful group who hasn't approached anyone going into the clinic, because it would be very hard to distinguish," she said.
Ms Cains still had doubts over the validity of the legislation and how the 50-metre exclusion zones would be enacted and enforced, saying the protest-free zones needed to be balanced with political and religious rights.
She said pro-life supporters could consider moving their prayer vigils to churches once the exclusion zones were in place.
"I don't know how it will affect individuals, but many will make their own decisions," she said.
"I don't think anyone will be willing to sacrifice their liberty to test the legislation, but they may. I don't know of anyone and our association won't be pushing for that."
The proposed zones were modelled on similar laws in Tasmania and designed to stop protests and prayer vigils that targeted women seeking an abortion.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell last year said the zones offered vulnerable women protection from negative mental health impacts, and believed abortion opponents should instead take their activism to political representatives.
Ms Cains said: "Politicians suggested we move the vigil to outside the Legislative Assembly, but it's not a matter that concerns just politicians, it concerns the whole community."
Women's Centre for Health Matters health promotion officer Angela Carnovale said the community had already been through the process of arguing whether the zones were appropriate and the vigil "conveyed judgement" upon women that contributed to abortion "stigma and silencing".
"It makes women feel they're not entitled to health services that, under ACT law, they're entitled to.
"Less than six months ago all members of our Legislative Assembly recognised that a protest, including the prayer vigil outside the ACT Health building, impeded health service users' access to essential health services and that principle is now not being upheld by this protest being held."
Canberra Goulburn's Catholic Archbishop, Christopher Prowse led prayers outside the building during last year's campaign, sparking renewed calls for the protest-free zones in the ACT.
The introduction of the exclusion zones in coming weeks is expected to put a stop to a regular gathering of protesters who have displayed signs and prayed together outside the clinic for more than 17 years.
Students from the Australian National University began a push for exclusion zones around abortion clinics in response to the protests in 2013.