• New Law Ensuring Safe Access to Abortion Clinics Now in Effect

    Ontario Protecting Women’s Right to Choose

    Starting today, all abortion clinics in Ontario will have safe access zones of 50 metres to protect the safety, security, health and privacy of women and health care providers.

    These changes are the result of legislation passed in 2017 to ensure women across the province can access abortion services without fear of intimidation, harassment or interference.

    Prohibited activities within safe access zones around clinics, facilities and offices include:

    • Advising a person to refrain from accessing abortion services
    • Abortion-related protests
    • Physically interfering with or intimidating people accessing or providing abortion services
    • Recording patients or providers (e.g. taking photos or video).

    Other facilities that offer abortion services, such as hospitals, health centres, or pharmacies, as well as the offices of regulated health professionals who provide abortion services can nowrequest safe access zones of up to 150 metres.

    In addition, abortion service providers now have automatic safe access zones of 150 metres around their homes. This includes a general anti-harassment provision that protects clinic staff and abortion providers anywhere in Ontario.

    Protecting women’s right to choose is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

    Quick Facts

    • The Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, 2017 creates safe access zones. Safe access zones include the property on which the clinic, facility, office, or home is located, and start at the outer boundaries of that property.
    • The new law also prohibits harassment of clinic staff and regulated health professionals who provide abortion services anywhere in Ontario.
    • In the lead up to this change coming into effect, the province worked proactively with law enforcement to ensure all police services have the information necessary to enforce this new law. Local Crown attorneys will also be available to support police going forward.
    • People who engage in any of the prohibited activities within safe access zones could 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.

    Additional Resources

    Quotes

    “No one should ever be intimidated or have to fear for their safety while accessing abortion services. These changes will have a far-reaching impact on patients, providers and communities across the province, helping to ensure these spaces are safer and more secure for everyone.”
    Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General
    “Women in our province should be able to access health care free from the threat or fear of violence or harassment. Safe access zones will protect a woman’s fundamental right to fair and equal access to safe abortion. It’s an important step forward for women in Ontario.”
    Harinder Malhi, Minister of the Status of Women, Ontario

    “Anyone seeking or providing abortion services should have the right to do so without feeling harassed, threatened, ashamed or afraid for their safety. I am grateful for the Province’s swift implementation of this new law, as it will help protect a woman’s right to choose.”
    Jim Watson, Mayor, City of Ottawa

     

  • Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose

    Province to Introduce Bill to Help Ensure Safe Access to Women’s Health Clinics

    Ontario is taking steps to help protect women who are seeking reproductive health care.

    In fall 2017, the province plans to introduce a bill that would, if passed, create “safe access zones” at specified health care facilities that offer women’s reproductive services. The zones would help ensure the safety and privacy of women, visitors and health care workers travelling to and from these facilities.

    Over the coming months, Ontario will consult with health care, legal and advocacy groups to develop details of the new law.

    Quick Facts

    • Both British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador have legislation in place that restricts protest activities around women’s health care facilities to help keep patients and staff safe.
    • In Ontario, there are currently several court injunctions in place to protect the safety and privacy of women and health care professionals by restricting protest activities in and around specific locations in the province.
    • Abortion is funded in Ontario as an insured service under the Health Insurance Act.

    Additional Resources

    Quotes

    “Every woman in Ontario has the right to make decisions about her own heath care – and they deserve to do so freely, and without fear. That’s why our government is taking steps to introduce a bill that would help give women and their health care providers safe and reliable access to women’s health care facilities.”
    Yasir Naqvi
    Attorney General

    “For many years, people seeking reproductive services at clinics across Ontario have been subjected to escalating hostility and aggression — adding tremendous stress to what may be an already difficult time in their lives. I welcome any government action that could give peace of mind to these folks and the people who care for them.”
    Catherine Macnab
    Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Ottawa

    Click here to read the complete Release.