Alberta set to introduce bill for no-go zones around abortion clinics

government intends to introduce a bill that would protect women from harassment

The Alberta government says it will introduce legislation Thursday to establish no-go zones for protesters around abortion clinics.

Kathleen Ganley, deputy house leader, gave official notice to the legislature Wednesday that the government intends to introduce a bill that would protect women from harassment.

Earlier Wednesday, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said intimidation of patients at abortion clinics in Alberta is on the rise. That is something no one should have to tolerate, she said.

“This is not about freedom of speech,” said Hoffman. “This is about deliberate targeting by intimidation, shame, harassment and bullying of women who are often vulnerable.

“That is completely unacceptable. Alberta women should have the right to access the care that’s right for them, including safe access to abortion services.”

RELATED: Clash over reproductive rights at Okanagan College

She declined to discuss details of the proposed legislation until it is introduced Thursday.

If it were to pass, Alberta would join British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador in creating safe zones to keep protesters away from patients.

Two clinics, one in Edmonton and one in Calgary, handle about 75 per cent of abortions in Alberta.

Hoffman said the number of protesters outside the Calgary Kensington clinic has doubled in the last year and there are demonstrators outside the Women’s Health Options centre in Edmonton four or five times a week.

RELATED: Pressure on Newfoundland to offer more abortion coverage

Both clinics have court orders keeping protesters at a distance.

But Celia Posyniak of the Kensington Clinic, who joined Hoffman at a news conference Wednesday, said the order for her facility has become ineffective.

She said protesters have been violating the rule that says they are to stay across the street and have been harassing patients with signs, verbal abuse and occasional attacks. She said the clinic has also been vandalized.

She said staff have to keep calling police to enforce the order, but recognize that officers are stretched to the limit.

“It’s frankly a waste of police resources,” said Posyniak. “They have told us we’re not a priority and I understand that. However, if we don’t enforce the meagre little order that we have … it would be chaos.”

Ontario legislation keeps protesters 50 metres away. Anyone who breaks the law can face a fine starting at $5,000 or given six months in jail.

Posyniak said the Alberta legislation will only be effective if there are some consequences for law-breakers.

Jason Nixon, house leader for the Opposition United Conservatives, said his caucus will look at the proposed legislation before commenting.

“We’ll see the bill when it comes forward. We’ll evaluate it. We’ll communicate with our constituents, with Albertans, like we would with any other piece of legislation, and then take a position from there,” said Nixon.

Greg Clark, house leader for the Alberta Party, said his colleagues, too, will wait before committing to supporting the bill. But he added they support the government’s overall approach.

“Protecting a woman’s right to choose is a fundamental right,” said Clark.

Liberal MLA David Swann, a medical doctor, agreed.

“Both patients and staff need to feel safe,” said Swann. “They’re doing a legally sanctioned activity.”

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Tourism Wells Gray hosts Stargazing and Sci-fi Movie Night series at WG Airport

By Jaime Polmateer Tourism Wells Gray is holding a Stargazing and Sci-fi… Continue reading

Making a splash at Dragonfly Splash Park

Children and staff from from Building Blocks Daycare took to the Dragonfly… Continue reading

The Fraser Institute in a nutshell

Editor, The Times: The Fraser Institute! Oh the Fraser Institute! In the… Continue reading

Top 10 ways to protect your home from wildfire

Submitted July 7 marked the one-year anniversary of the B.C. wildfires. On… Continue reading

The latest Wells Gray Park Horseshoe update

You guessed it. The horseshoe update that I am talking about has… Continue reading

Update: Police probe Toronto shooting that killed 2, injured 12; suspected gunman dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Deadly L.A. market shooting started with domestic feud

A domestic incident ended after a car crashed into a pole outside Trader Joe’s market

Sunken duck boat to be raised after deadly Missouri accident

17 people died over the weekend in a deadly boat incident

Man extradited to Canada in B.C. killing, following arrest in South Korea

28-year-old Jui-Kai Weng was charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder

Canada beats Triple Crown for Canada Cup softball title

National team’s championship is first at B.C. tournament since 1996

Record high in Japan as heat wave grips the region

The temperature in a city north of Tokyo reached 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, the highest ever recorded in Japan.

Feds looking at ways to tackle wave of gun violence in Toronto: Minister

Toronto mayor John Tory spoke to the press following a mass casualty event in Toronto.

Inquest set in death of RCMP’s spokesperson for Robert Dziekanski case

Former Mountie Pierre Lemaitre died of self-inflicted injuries in Abbotsford in 2013

Most Read