As anti-abortion activists step up their tactics around abortion clinics, Newfoundland and Labrador's minister of justice says he wants to establish protest-free "buffer zones" banning demonstrations around the health-care providers, based on the success of a similar law in British Columbia.
Andrew Parsons says the legislation, slated to be introduced this fall, will strike a balance between the constitutional right to free expression and a person's ability to access health-care services without "feeling intimidated or harassed."
He says the draft legislation will be modelled after British Columbia's Access to Abortion Services Act, which makes it a crime to protest or interfere with a patient or provider within a 50-metre radius of an abortion clinic.
The director of the Elizabeth Bagshaw Women's Clinic in Vancouver says the province's law has all but eliminated protests beyond the 50-metre "bubble zone" outside her clinic.
Newfoundland's proposal comes in response to a 25-year-long dispute between one of the province's two abortion clinics and the protesters who have stood vigil outside since it opened, with both sides hurling accusations of intimidation, harassment and infringement of their charter rights.
Rolanda Ryan, owner of the Athena Health Centre, says the conflict has escalated following a recent move making it nearly impossible for women to come and go without confronting ultrasound photos, "Choose Life" placards and a GoPro camera which she has reason to believe is being used to photograph her patients.
Unaffiliated activist Colette Flemming says she stands in prayer outside the clinic's entrance at least twice a week and does not stop or speak to patients, and that the camera is used for the demonstrators' own protection.
Undeterred and even motivated by the proposed ban, Flemming says if the buffer zone is implemented, she will move her protest to its border.