Clinic workers, reproductive rights activists, and patients of sexual health clinics have called for bubble-zone legislation in Ontario for many years. On Wednesday, October 4, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi answered the call when he introduced legislation to further protect access to abortion services.
“Health care workers, women, and all patients of sexual health clinics have been subject to harassment, surveillance and intimidation by protesters for many years,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “Speedy adoption of this legislation will further enshrine the right to access reproductive health care in safety and without shame.”
“I recognize the dedicated work of activists across the province who have taken action both to oppose these protests directly, and who have held politicians accountable to ensure safety for all people who access these clinics,” said Véronique Prevost, Unifor Ontario Regional Women's Committee Vice-Chair .
The proposed legislation mimics bills already passed in British Columbia, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Bill 163 would amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in relation to abortion services to establish a “safe access zone” surrounding clinics that provide abortion services.
“People in Ontario must continue to push their elected representatives to not only adopt this law, but increase the coverage of access zones,” said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Women’s Director. “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.”
The access zone will be established between 50 meters surrounding the clinic, with the ability to increase the zone up to 150 metres. No person may interfere with anyone’s access to abortion within the access zone, including through physically interfering, intimidating, or persistently requesting that a person refrain from accessing abortion. The full text of the bill can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s Website.