NDP Introduce Bill to Protect Women Accessing Abortion Services

November 22, 2018

Nahanni Fontaine, NDP MLA for St Johns and Critic for Status of Women, introduced a bill in the Manitoba Legislature today that would strengthen access to reproductive health care for women and protect the front line health care workers who deliver it.

Bill 200 the Safe Access to Abortion Act would establish ‘buffer zones’, or safety perimeters, around any clinic, hospital or health care facility that offers abortion services to Manitoba women. The bill prohibits any protesting, demonstrating or picketing within the zones and strengthens protections for patients against harassment or determent.

The bill also extends buffer zones around the private residences or offices of any front line health care workers who perform abortion services.

“Manitoba women have the right to access the essential reproductive health care they need safely and without harassment,” said Fontaine. “Any harassment, coercion or abuse directed toward patients by demonstrators is unacceptable. No woman should be deterred from accessing health care based purely on ideological agendas.”

Fontaine noted past incidences of violence against Manitoba doctors and nurses who delivered abortions serve as a reminder of the threat against women’s reproductivecxcfdd rights and the sacrifice of health care workers.

Similar legislation has been enacted in other provinces across Canada, in response to reports of harassment and intimidation on the part of pro-life demonstrators outside women’s health care clinics. In Ottawa and Alberta, demonstrators regularly breached court injunctions obtained by health care clinics to maintain a safe distance from patients.

“Women deserve privacy and dignity when making choices about their own reproductive health care,” said Fontaine. “We believe Bill 200 will keep patients and front line workers safe while improving access to abortion services for young women and girls.”