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Ontario to introduce 'bubble zones'

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Critics say proposed bill solves non-existent problem
By Deborah Gyapong


The Ontario Attorney General announced May 29 the government will introduce a bill this fall to create “safe access zones” around abortion facilities.

The move comes after a series of mainstream news articles that highlighted negative behaviour of a couple of protesters, including a mentally unstable man who entered the Morgentaler abortion facility on Bank St. and sprayed the waiting room with holy water.

“Every woman in Ontario has the right to make decisions about her own heath care – and they deserve to do so freely, and without fear,” said Attorney General Yasir Naqvi at a news conference in Ottawa with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “That’s why our government is taking steps to introduce a bill that would help give women and their health-care providers safe and reliable access to women’s health-care facilities.”

The Ontario government is following the lead of British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador in creating bubble zones around abortion facilities. In Ontario, court injunctions have created bubble zones around some specific locations in the Toronto area.

Johanne Brownrigg of Campaign Life Coalition called the proposed legislation “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

“40 Days for Life has been an annual fixture in our city for 10 years without incident,” Brownrigg said. “It has been a prayerful, peaceful witness highlighting the humanity of the unborn.”

“I find it hard to believe that in an age of social media not one incident has been recorded. Not one,” she said. “There are no police reports either, outside of one isolated incident. So unproven allegations are tarring a whole movement.”

Ruth Lobo Shaw, executive director of the National Campus Life Network, said only one arrest was made involving the young man who entered the facility twice and sprinkled holy water.

There is another man who stands on the sidewalk outside the entrance wearing a sandwich board who “is not kind to the women,” Shaw said.

“We condemn these actions, we wish for them to stop, they are not representative of the pro-life movement at large or how we would like women to be treated as they are not respectful actions.”

She said mainstream media haven’t sought comment from the pro-life side. “I also think these behaviours could be stopped with simple arrests and do not require the creation of a zone around the clinic.”

Brownrigg pointed to a double standard when it comes to free speech. “We have just had our National March for Life,” she said. “Counter-protesters numbered only around 200, wore masks, carried the Communist flag and looked and behaved in a very threatening manner, as is their way and they were not removed from the streets.”

The small counter-demonstration led to the re-routing of 15,000 marchers, who were unable to pass by the Human Rights Monument as planned.

“This insanity was allowed to prevail,” Brownrigg said. “In that case, freedom of speech was used as the reason.”

“In the case of the bubble zone, we have a double standard that is agenda driven,” she said.


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