As we have said before with bubble zones, they are an attack on freedom of expression. They seek to silence one segment of society and to remove potential support for women facing crisis pregnancies. These “safe access zones” make it illegal to show disapproval of abortion, while it remains fine to express support and approval for abortion.
Beyond the impact on those wishing to express their pro-life beliefs, these laws do nothing to help women. It is already illegal to intimidate or harass people, regardless of where they are. If harassment and intimidation were actually happening outside abortion clinics, there would be reports of it – but police reports show no evidence to suggest this is the case.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, in their attempt to find pro-life violence, turns to data from the United States and Australia to make their case. This is necessary because it has been more than two decades since any kind of violence or serious vandalism was perpetrated against an abortion doctor or abortion facility in Canada. Even before that, reports were extremely rare, and almost all attributed to a single man who was started his anti-abortion violence in the U.S.
The vast majority of protests outside abortion clinics are small, quiet, prayerful, and sincere. The people who spend time outside abortion clinics do so because they care deeply about life – the lives of women and the lives of their children. When a woman is facing an incredibly personal and difficult decision, bubble zones say the best way she can make that decision is all alone. Insisting that she not hear an opposing point of view is not about protecting women, but about isolating them. It treats women as fragile and incapable of making balanced decisions.
Every woman deserves to have access to information about abortion. This cannot just be information an abortion clinic might give her about the actual procedure, but information about the humanity of the pre-born and the availability of support should she wish to parent. Informed choices require information. That information should come from more sources than just the one set to profit off her decision. Silencing one message doesn’t increase autonomy, it decreases the information and potential support available to women.
A similar law is currently being challenged as an unconstitutional limitation of freedom of expression in Ontario, and we hope this bill will be quickly shut down by the Saskatchewan government for the sake of women, children, and freedom of expression.
If you live in Saskatchewan, take a moment to send an email to your MLA expressing your disappointment with this bill and asking that they vote against it when the time comes.