Bloody fetuses are depicted during a pro-life rally on Okanagan College campus Wednesday. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Ontario makes it illegal to protest near abortion clinics

Zones to be created around eight clincs in Ontario to prevent anti-abortion protests

It will soon be illegal to protest outside and near abortion clinics in Ontario.

The legislature passed a bill Wednesday to create zones around the eight clinics in the province of between 50 and 150 metres in which anti-abortion protests, advising a person not to get an abortion, and intimidation or interfering with a woman’s ability to access the services will be banned.

The ban will also automatically apply to 150 metres around the homes of abortion staff and health professionals who provide the services.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi cheered that all three parties worked together to pass the legislation on a sped-up timeline.

“We as legislators have passed a very important piece of legislation ensuring that women have safe access to health-care services like reproductive health and abortion services,” he said. “We worked on this bill on a very short time frame to ensure that we protect women.”

The bill’s timing had inflamed political tensions between the governing Liberals and the Opposition Progressive Conservatives. The Tories had proposed passing the bill immediately after it was introduced, with no debate or committee hearings, and the Liberals declined, which led the PCs to accuse the government of trying to draw it out, hoping it would expose divisions within the PC party.

Opposition Leader Patrick Brown noted his party unanimously voted for the bill’s passage Wednesday, and said it did not cause any divisions within his caucus.

Several of his caucus members — including those who have espoused socially conservative views — however, were absent for the vote. Two were away for health reasons, Brown said, though they are not the members who hold those views.

Brown did not directly address the absence of the social conservative members, but noted many Liberals were away as well. That included two of three Liberals who have been praised by anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition for their views.

The lone politician to vote against the bill was Jack MacLaren, a former Progressive Conservative who now sits as an independent after joining the Trillium Party, which the legislature does not recognize as an official party.

Campaign Life Coalition released a statement threatening a legal challenge to the bill “if necessary,” saying it attacks freedom of speech.

Naqvi has previously said that going through a proper legislative process — even an expedited one — versus immediate passage helps to ensure the bill can withstand a constitutional challenge.

No changes were made to the bill between its introduction and its passage.

The law will not come into force immediately, however, as the zones need to be set through regulations, Naqvi said.

There will be an application process for other health-care providers or pharmacists, as some Ontario pharmacies recently started offering the abortion pill, Mifegymiso.

Anyone who violates the safe zones will face up to $5,000 in fines and six months in jail for a first offence and fines of $1,000 to $10,000 and up to a year in jail for a second or subsequent offence.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

First residents move into Nuxalk Nation’s tiny homes

Four of the tiny homes are now complete and residents have moved in

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 5: Recap

Highlights and results from day 5 at the All Native Tournament

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

Most Read