The Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act was tabled in the Alberta legislature Thursday, April 4.

The bill is designed to safeguard women who choose to access abortion services.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says it's not okay that Alberta Women are being treated badly when making health choices.

"Our goal in bringing this legislation forward today is to stand with Alberta women," said Hoffman. "Ensuring they feel safe when accessing the health care that they choose."

She added these women are being deliberately targeted and intimidated, shamed and bullied.

"This legislation is also about preventing the harrasment of staff."

The legislation would establish 50-metre “access zones” at Alberta’s two non-hospital abortion clinics,Kensington Clinic in Calgary and Woman’s Health Options in Edmonton, to prevent intimidation, interference or protesting against patients, doctors and clinic staff.

Visual or audio recordings of patients, doctors or staff within an access zone would also be prohibited.

The legislation would allow doctors and service providers to request a regulated access zone of up to 160 metres for their homes or 20 metres for an office.

It would also be illegal to use repeated phone, mail or electronic communications to try to convince a doctor or service provider to not provide abortion services.

The legislation would create escalating fines for repeated violations of the act, up to $10,000 for an individual or $100,000 for a corporation.

Quick facts

- Laws protecting access to abortion services have been in place in British Columbia since 1996.

- More recently, the governments of Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador have also passed similar legislation.

- More than 75 per cent of abortions in Alberta are provided at the Kensington Clinic and Woman’s Health Options.
    
- These clinics have previously relied on court injunctions to limit the number, proximity and activities of protesters.
        
- Both clinics report significant increases in protester activity despite the injunctions.

 

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