Monday, May 29, 2017
Protecting Women's Privacy and Dignity Via Safe Zones Around Abortion Clinics
Thank you, Yasir Naqvi (and the Liberal government!) for giving a damn about Ontario women and their right to privacy and dignity when going to abortion clinics. In particular in Ottawa. The Ontario Attorney General and Ottawa Centre MPP plans to propose a bill this fall and cites reports of harassment by a small group of anti-abortion protesters outside a clinic in his riding (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-province-protect-abortion-clincs-1.4135673). "These zones around abortion clinics will ensure that women across Ontario have access to healthcare services, and that their privacy and dignity are protected when doing so," Naqvi said (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-province-protect-abortion-clincs-1.4135673). This summer he will consult on the issue, looking at similar laws already in place in Quebec, British Columbia, and Labrador and Newfoundland. B.C., for instance, passed the Access to Abortion Services Act in 1995, which prohibits protesting, intimidation, and physical interference within “access zones” around clinics, hospitals, and doctors’ offices that offer abortion services (http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/city-has-grounds-to-regulate-protesters-outside-ottawas-abortion-clinic-legal-experts). Quebec is the leader in Canada by being home to 46 of Canada's 94 abortion facilities, with at least half in rural areas. Its health policy (it has directed funds specifically to providing abortion in underserved areas since the 1970s) has dictated that every health region have at least one abortion facility (http://news.nationalpost.com/health/quebec-home-to-46-of-canadas-94-abortion-facilities-while-p-e-i-doesnt-have-a-single-clinic-study-finds). Parti Québécois deputy Carole Poirier started working on a similar law for Quebec following the deadly mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic in 2015 (https://news.vice.com/article/quebec-wants-to-ban-pro-lifers-from-protesting-outside-abortion-clinics). The important thing, however, is to not only protect women's rights to safe abortions and to protect their dignity and privacy but to also not infringe on freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest. However, it is hard to respect someone's right to protest when he or she is being anything but peaceful and respectful. Women seeking medical attention and procedures should not be harassed or spit on. That is simply disgusting plain and simple! Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said, "We've seen harassment over the years on Bank Street at the (Morgentaler) clinic but it was starting in many ways to get worse." (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-province-protect-abortion-clincs-1.4135673). Naqvi's proposal makes Catherine McNab, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Ottawa, a partner of the downtown clinic excited. "In a perfect world it would happen tomorrow but realistically, the idea something so significant, something that's been happening for decades could be resolved or addressed within a matter of months, we certainly can celebrate that today," said Catherine Macnab. "That doesn't change the fact there are people that are going to need protection today, tomorrow and every day between now and then." (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-province-protect-abortion-clincs-1.4135673). I'm so grateful to live in Canada where women's rights are respected unlike backwards countries in the Middle East or the United States of Trump where defunding to Planned Parenthood was one of the first things on the Donald's conservative agenda. I think safe zones should be created throughout Canada because all women have the right to choose and to have access to a safe abortion. Anything less is unacceptable!