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

OCOP: ‘Hiring without boundaries’

Brody McDearmid is putting a focus on hiring people with disabilities at Meridian Meats.

Children getting too much screen time

A Maple Ridge mother opens up about her children’s use of tablets, smartphones and television

Start of the weekend will be a wet one in Maple Ridge

Weather statement from Env. Canada for Friday

Maple Ridge will vote on garbage pickup this election

Plebiscite will piggy-back on to civic vote

Free parking spots at Ridge Meadows Hospital eroded

Lab patient says he may go to Mission over parking issue

VIDEO: Maple Ridge tent city residents back after flash flood Friday

Mayor though says they shouldn’t have to go back

5 to start your day

National forecaster issues rainfall warning, three crashes in Metro Vancouver overnight and more

Burnaby RCMP investigating ‘serious’ rollover crash

Shortly after 1 a.m. Friday, police said a truck crashed closing Lougheed Highway

Man dead after being hit by 2 vehicles on Highway 10

Pedestrian in his 50s has died after being hit by two vehicles, one of which stayed: Surrey RCMP

1 person dead after crash on Highway 17 in Delta

Footage from the scene shows a mangled white truck that appears to have slammed into a barrier

Legal society poster seeks complainants against two cops on Downtown Eastside

Pivot Legal Society became aware of allegations made against the officers after a video circulated

Jury to deliberate in case of Calgary man accused of murdering woman

Curtis Healy could be convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter

House arrest for man who abused disabled B.C. woman, then blamed her

‘Groomed complainant’ and ‘violated position of trust,’ judge says

Liberals want to know what Canadians think of legalized weed

The federal government will comb social media for Canadians’ pot-related behaviour

Most Read