Ottawa mayor looks to province to protect access to abortion services
Similar laws already in place in B.C., N.L.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is asking the province to create a law to protect women's access to abortion services after recent reports of patients and staff who have been confronted while trying to access an Ottawa clinic.
The mayor announced the plan after meeting with representatives from Planned Parenthood and Ottawa Victim Services to discuss how to improve access to abortion services in the city.
Watson said he has written to Ontario's Attorney General Yasir Naqvi to request an "Access to Abortion Services Act" for the city and the rest of province.
"Anyone seeking or providing abortion services should have the right to do so without feeling harassed, threatened or afraid for their safety," Watson said in a news release.
"This legislation would help ensure that those individuals have the protection they need."
Similar laws already exist in other provinces, including B.C. and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Watson's move to reach out to the province comes after a recommendation from city solicitor Rick O'Connor, who said municipal bylaws would be difficult to enforce and therefore limited in effectiveness.
Naqvi said his ministry has been looking at the province's options to ensure harassment at clinics does not continue.
"I will have more to say once I have determined the best course of action," he said in a statement Tuesday.
Patients, staff confronted outside clinic
Tuesday's meeting was a response to recent demonstrations that have taken place outside the Morgentaler Clinic on Bank Street.
The clinic provides abortion care and related services, including counselling, contraceptive education and testing for sexually transmitted infections, according to its website.
In April, Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau issued a statement saying police monitoring the protests "have the difficult job of ensuring the safety and security of all those involved or impacted by a demonstration."
He said officers had also been accused of not respecting the rights of protesters gathered outside the clinic.
Bordeleau said if the clinic wanted a protected "bubble" zone that demonstrators would not be allowed to enter, it would have to pursue the issue with the courts as the police service does not have have the authority to grant one.