Pro-lifers participate in peaceful demonstration in Toronto for the annual Life Chain held across Canada on Oct. 1, 2017. Photo by Jean Ko Din

Bubble zone legislation is 'simply wrong'

By 
  • October 13, 2017

Bubble zone legislation proposed to keep protesters away from abortion clinics in Ontario is “an unjust denial of freedom of expression and Charter rights,” according to Ontario Civil Liberties Association executive director Joe Hickey.



“What’s at issue here is that we live in a democratic society. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Individuals have the freedom to protest. They have the freedom to do that in public spaces,” Hickey told The Catholic Register.

Hickey was speaking after Attorney General Yasir Naqvi unveiled legislation that will ban protest and pro-life counselling within zones extending 50 to 150 metres from the front doors of clinics and hospitals that perform abortions.

“It’s simply wrong, and it’s not healthy for society, to start repressing people by removing that right,” he said.

The proposed Ontario law, which has not yet been introduced in the legislature, is modelled after similar laws in British Columbia, Quebec and New-foundland, but carries heavier penalties. The government wants an automatic ban on anti-abortion activity around eight abortion clinics and around the homes of abortion clinic staff and other health professionals involved in providing abortions. Any violation of the “safe zones” would carry fines up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail for a first offence. Repeat offenders would face fines ranging from $1,000 to 10,000 and up to a year in jail.

“The choice to access abortion services is a deeply personal one,” Naqvi told reporters. “Patients have the right to access abortion services safely and securely with their privacy maintained, free from any intimidation or interference.”

But Hickey at the Ontario Civil Liberties Association sees little evidence anybody is unable to access abortion services.

“At the moment, people have access and it’s protesters’ rights that are under fire,” he said.

In Ottawa, staff at the Morgentaler clinic have reported escalating protests which they say have prevented women from accessing the Bank Street clinic.

“What they’ve done now, here, is a result of one person at the Ottawa abortuary walking up and down the steps. One person,” said Jim Hughes, Campaign Life Coalition national president.

“The government is trying to use a non-existing abortion right to trample over genuine rights that are protected by our Charter of Rights,” said Campaign Life in a press release. “This is another attempt by the Wynne government to do the abortion industry’s dirty work,” said Campaign Life Ontario president Mary Ellen Douglas. “By preventing people who care deeply about women and their pre-born children from providing them help and support.”

Progressive Conservative opposition leader Patrick Brown accused Premier Kathleen Wynne of using “divisive social issues” to burnish her political reputation and attack Conservatives.

The opposition parties proposed fast-tracking the legislation, but the government insisted on a full process of hearings and debate.

“Let me be very clear: I’m pro-choice,” Brown said in a video released on social media. “That includes protecting women exercising their rights free from intimidation or harassment. If Kathleen Wynne wants to “This is another attempt by the Wynne government to do the abortion industry’s dirty work,” said Campaign Life Ontario president Mary Ellen Douglas. “By preventing people who care deeply about women and their pre-born children from providing them help and support.”

Progressive Conservative opposition leader Patrick Brown accused Premier Kathleen Wynne of using “divisive social issues” to burnish her political reputation and attack Conservatives.

The opposition parties proposed fast-tracking the legislation, but the government insisted on a full process of hearings and debate.

“Let me be very clear: I’m pro-choice,” Brown said in a video released on social media. “That includes protecting women exercising their rights free from intimidation or harassment. If Kathleen Wynne wants to... It isn’t time in Ontario to debate divisive social issues. It’s time for real change that puts families first.”

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