'I don't care about the political fallout:' N.L. justice minister vows to provide better abortion access
Legislation would keep protesters 50 metres from any clinic, 160 metres from doctors' homes
Proposed legislation that aims to protect people seeking abortions and the people who provide them is making its way through Newfoundland and Labrador's House of Assembly.
The Access to Abortion Services Act would prohibit protesters from demonstrating, carrying signs or trying to dissuade women from getting abortions outside abortion clinics, doctors' homes and their offices.
Abortion is a legal service. It's a necessary. I stand by it.- Andrew Parsons
Speaking at a news conference announcing the proposed legislation, the justice minister said he's not worried about the political consequences of taking a stand on the divisive issue.
"I got to be honest, I don't really care. That's the best way I can put it. This is important. Abortion is a legal service. It's a necessary. It's a medical service. It has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. I stand by it," said Andrew Parsons.
"If there is political fallout, that's not something I have spent a lot of time thinking about."
Bill 43 sets out a designated "safe access zone" for patients seeking abortion services.
The protected areas include the land on which an abortion facility is located and extends 50 metres outwards from that property.
For doctors who provide abortions, protesters would not be allowed within 160 metres of their homes.
The bill would ban the filming or photographing of patients, service providers or doctors inside the designated zones if it's done to dissuade someone from having an abortion. It also covers the stalking and harassing of individuals for the same purpose.
The justice minister expects the proposed legislation will become law before the end of this year.
"Women have to travel great distances — often at their own expense — for a legal medical service. We have to improve access to this medical service," said St. John's Centre MHA Gerry Rogers.