While it’s unfortunate that something like this is necessary, in any case where safety is an issue, it’s only fitting that preventative and protective measures are taken.
It’s not unheard of for an individual accessing or providing abortion services to be initimidated or interfered near an abortion clinic or office, or even near their home. Now, some serious new rules have been passed for everyone’s safety.
New safe zones are now in effect for facilities that offer abortion services as well as the homes and offices of regulated abortion providers.
In accordance with the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, 2017, abortion clinics in Ontario now have safe access zones of 50 metres, which can be decreased or increased up to 150 metres by regulation.
So, facilities and offices that offer abortion services can apply for safe access zones of up to 150 metres, while regulated health professionals who provide abortion services outside of clinics can apply for safe access zones of up to 150 metres around their offices.
Abortion providers get an automatic safe access zone of up to 150 metres around their home.
The province is prohibiting the following within safe access zones:
- Advising a person to refrain from accessing abortion services,
- Abortion-related protests, and
- Activities that intimidate or physically interfere with individuals accessing or providing abortion services.
“The legislation also includes a general anti-harassment provision that protects clinic staff and abortion providers anywhere in Ontario,” said the province in a statement.
These safe access zones include the property of the clinic, facility, office, or house is located, and start at the boundaries of that property.
“This legislation, which allows for safe zones to be created around facilities, offices and the homes of regulated abortion providers upholds a woman’s right to choose,” said Indira Naidoo-Harris, minister of the status of women.
“Women in Ontario will finally have safe and equal access to abortion services, free from harassment, bullying or violence.”
And for those who don’t comply?
Violators who engage in any of the prohibited activities within safe access zones will 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, says the province.
Hopefully – and reiterating how unfortunate it is to even have to say – the new legislation will ensure less women are harassed province-wide.