Bubble zone street signs cite Bill 163 outside abortion clinics in Ottawa. Photo from Campaign Life Coalition/Twitter

Bubble zones around abortion clinics in effect

  • February 1, 2018
Ontario’s new 50-metre, protest-free bubble zones around abortion clinics officially came into effect Feb. 1.

The new law bans sidewalk counselling, protest, intimidation, physically interferring with access to the clinics and photographing or taking videos of abortion providers and the clincs’ clients.

In addition to Ontario’s 15 free-standing abortion clinics, hospitals, health centres and pharmacies that offer abortion services, as well as offices of doctors who provide abortion, can apply for a “safe access zone” of up to 150 metres. Doctors and other health professionals who provide abortions get an automatic 150-metre bubble zone around their homes.

“Protecting women’s right to choose is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change,” said a statement from the office of Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.

“Courts take a dim view of limitations and such measures intended to stifle free speech,” Catholic Civil Rights League president Phil Horgan told legislative hearings before the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act was passed last year.

So far, no court challenge has been launched.

Organizers of the May 10 National March for Life in Ottawa may need to plan a new route for the event, which attracts 15,000 to 20,000 protesters annually. The traditional route leads past Ottawa’s Morgantaler Clinic.

Campaign Life Coalition has been discussing legal options to challenge the new law. In the meantime Campaign Life is advising organizers of prayer vigils and other forms of protest to obey the law.

“Contact your local police authorities to discuss the bubble-zone. If possible, meet with the staff sergeant at the abortion facility, hospital, pharmacy etc. where you plan to witness to life and have them show you the exact boundaries of the bubble-zone,” said a Campaign Life Coalition advisory about the new rules.

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