REGINA – Today, NDP Opposition Critic for the Status of Women Jennifer Bowes introduced Bill 605: An Act to Provide Safe Access to Abortion Services. If passed, the legislation would ensure that people have their constitutionally protected right to access health care, free of harassment and intimidation. It would also protect the health care workers and service providers who issue these services. The legislation mirrors similar legislation already established in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.
“It is far too common to hear stories of patients being aggressively harassed while simply trying to make the best medical decisions for their reproductive health. No patient or healthcare and service provider in this country should ever face harassment and intimidation for accessing or providing an essential service,” said Bowes. “This legislation, if passed, will instill confidence in patients and providers that their constitutionally protected healthcare rights are protected.”
“Saskatoon Sexual Health is pleased to support the Act to Provide Safe Access to Abortion Services by MLA Bowes. This shows a strong commitment to ensuring that all individuals have safe and equal access to abortion, a very common procedure and integral part of comprehensive reproductive health services,” said Heather Hale, Executive Director of Saskatoon Sexual Health. “This legislation ensures that patients, providers, and staff who are entering or leaving a medical facility can do so safely and privately, without harassment or obstruction, and in a way that respects their dignity.”
The bill would establish “Access Zones” around clinics and facilities to prohibit the harassment of patients seeking a full spectrum of reproductive health options, including abortion. The legislation would also protect the health care staff and service providers of these clinics and facilities who deserve to work in an environment free of harassment and personal threats.
Key elements of the bill include:
- Access Zones shall be established in an area up to 150 metres from the edge of the property of the clinic or the facility, prohibiting the harassment and intimidation of patients seeking reproductive health care.
- New protections to ensure no person can repeatedly harass or intimidate workers and providers of these clinics and facilities, whether in-person, by phone or online for the purposes of dissuading these employees from doing their job.
- First offenses under the proposed legislation, would receive a fine of up to $5,000. Subsequent offenses under the legislation would be subject to a fine of at least $1,000, and up to $10,000.