Ontario has passed a bill to protect a woman’s right to choose and access abortion services without fear or harassment.
The new Bill, Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, 2017 , passed on Wednesday, and protects the safety, security, health, and privacy of women and health care providers by allowing for safe access zones to be established around clinics and facilities that offer abortion services, the homes of clinic staff, and the homes and offices of other regulated health professionals who provide these services.
Under this legislation, abortion clinics in Ontario will have safe access zones of 50 metres, which can be decreased or increased up to 150 metres by regulation.
“Our government believes that every woman in Ontario has the right to make decisions about her own heath care – and she deserves to do so freely, without fear,” said Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General, in a statement, “This legislation sends a clear message that we will always stand up for a woman’s right to choose.”
Prohibited activities within safe access zones around clinics, facilities, and offices include advising a person to refrain from accessing abortion services, any protests, or any activities that intimidate or physically interfere with individuals accessing or providing abortion services.
The new legislation also prohibits harassing conduct anywhere in Ontario, directed at clinic staff and regulated health professionals who provide abortion services. Further, anyone engaging in prohibited activities within safe access zones would face fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months upon their first offence. For second and subsequent offences, fines could range between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.
“Women in Ontario will finally have safe and equal access to abortion services, free from harassment, bullying or violence,” said Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women. “This act demonstrates our government’s commitment to the security, equality and empowerment of women in Ontario.”