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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Participants earlier this year in March for Lakes Loppet at the ski club. (Lakes District News file photo)
How is Omineca Ski Club prepping for this ski season?

Covid restrictions, social distancing but ski season to continue

Tonye Aganaba, the Vancouver-based hip-hop artist will be featured in the next virtual event. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)
The third LDAC concert and Off the Wall art show is out

The council’s preliminary survey results shows high levels of satisfaction

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

The ‘new normal’ for hockey parents in Chilliwack and elsewhere in B.C., watching their kids from outside of the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey parents petition to be let back in the arena

Refused access due to pandemic protocols, parents are now applying pressure to loosen the rules

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of B.C. girl, 7, by accused mother was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. money laundering inquiry hears of $800,000 and more in bags, luggage, backpacks

The lottery corporation has said it consistently reported suspicious transactions to Fintrac

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Most Read