A new law in Ontario will further guarantee the right to safe abortion services, free from harassment and intimidation through the creation of safe access zones surrounding clinics.
‘Protecting a Woman's Right to Access Abortion Services Act’ Bill 163 was introduced by Attorney General Yasir Naqvi on October 4 and passed into law on October 25. The Ontario Regional Council Women’s Committee Co-Vice Chair Véronique Prevost made a deputation during the hearings for the bill.
“For anyone accessing reproductive health care services, they deserve to do so without intimidation, harassment and physical assault,” said Prevost.
The legislative access zone established 50 meters surrounding the clinic as a safe area, with the ability to increase the zone up to 150 metres. As a result of the law no person may interfere with another person’s access to an abortion clinic within the access zone, including through physically interfering, intimidating, or persistently requesting that a person refrain from accessing abortion. Anyone who breaks the law will face fines of up to $5,000 and six months in jail for the first offense and $10,000 and a year in jail for any subsequent offenses.
“Abortion rights have never simply been given; it is through our collective action and united voice that we will win this next step towards reproductive justice for all,” said Women’s Department Director Lisa Kelly.
The legislation follows similar laws in Quebec, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The issue of safe access zones was discussed at length at the 2017 Canadian Council in August where a resolution was passed by delegates. To read the final resolutions please visit unifor.org/canadiancouncil