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

Lacombe Raiders pillage Hunting Hills 30-6

Raiders carry 2-0 record into Stettler game next week

Lacombe Rams put Cyclones in spin-cycle with 42-7 win

Rams will face highly ranked Hunting Hills next week

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Town of Blackfalds presents Multi-plex expansion designs at open house

Mayor hopes project will go to tender in early 2021

Red Deer-Lacombe incumbent says he will run a clean campaign

Blaine Calkins, Red Deer-Lacombe MP, says he is excited for the six-week election period

WATCH: Enhanced Emergency Department opens at Lacombe Hospital

$3.1 million facility jointly funded by AHS, Lacombe Health Trust

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Red Deer Rebels drop preseason tilt to Tigers 5-3

Rebels fail to score after three first period goals

Canada Post has unfair advantage in distributing flyers: news group

Crown corporation argues newspapers, private operators deliver majority of flyers in Canada

Western Canadian Baseball team, stadium coming to Sylvan Lake

The Town announced they are finalizing an agreement to have a WCBL team in the future sports park

Most Read