Sask. Legislature considering bill proposing “bubble zones” around abortion clinics, limiting anti-abortion protests

The Saskatchewan government is debating a private member’s bill aimed at introducing “bubble zones” for those entering abortion clinics in the province.

The bill was introduced by Saskatoon- University MLA Jennifer Bowes, who says women shouldn’t be scared to access something they’re legally entitled too.

“Women are accessing their constitutionally protected right to healthcare services, they have a right to do so without being harassed,” said Bowes. “And by harassment, I mean attempts to dissuade them from accessing this medical service, attempts to express disapproval, to physically interfere with them, there are many examples.”

In the bill, Bowes describes harassment to include any anti-abortion protests women may face, and the bubbles would extend up to 150 metres from any facility providing abortions. The bubble would also apply to the homes of those providing abortions.

Attorney General Gord Wyant says he wants to have a proper look at the bill before backing it or not.

“I know there’s a number of promises that have passed similar legislation, and I think it’s incumbent as the Attorney General to make sure that the legislation meets the purposes for which it’s intended, so I want to have a chance to look at it,” said Wyant. “We believe that people should have the right, women should have the right to access those services without fear of intimidation or harassment.”

Bowes recognizes her bill is pretty extensive, but she says the province needs to make sure women are protected.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to make it this expansive because, as women, we all know that there are multiple ways that people intimidate women,” said Bowes. “In this specific instance, there’s many forms of activities and things that are said, and pictures that are displayed that are deeply offensive to women who are accessing abortion services.

If passed, fines for people breaching the bubble zone could face fines of up to $5,000, with a maximum of $10,000.

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