British Columbia’s pro-life community will appeal a provincial Supreme Court decision upholding the province’s “bubble zone” legislation.

Despite growing disenchantment with the legal system, pro-life supporters plan to continue to press for their rights to peaceful public witnessing against abortion.

The bubble zone law was ruled unconstitutional by B.C Provincial Court Judge E.J Cronin in January. The decision was immediately appealed by the New Democratic government of B.C and Cronin decision was overturned October 8.

“This is a fight for our basic rights to express ourselves,” said attorney Paul Formby, who has been leading the appeal. Formby acted as defence counsel for pro-life activist Maurice Lewis who was charged in October 1995 for violating Bill48, the Access to Abortion Services Act, Lewis approached the Everywoman’s Health Clinic in Vancouver carrying a poster of our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn.

“If we don’t make a strong stand at this time pro-life efforts could be further suppressed in the future,” Formby said. He added that a successful challenge of the legislation could set a positive precedent for freedom of expression protection throughout the country. Pro-life groups have borne the brunt of provincial government moves to curtail free expression.

The act created 50-metre “bubble zones” around British Columbia abortion clinics and hospitals. Demonstrators are prohibited from any form of pro-life communication, including prayer, within the 50-metre zones.

In upholding Bill 48, B.C Justice Mary Saunders said the government is justified in attempting to reduce tension created by public protest.

“In my view, the objective of the legislation outweighs the infringement of section 2 of the Charter,” Justice Saunders said “Under section 1 of the Charter; I find that the access to Abortion Services Act is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

With the appeal, Formby hopes to add noted civil rights attorney Charles Mclean to the Lewis defence team. Mclean, former host of a popular Vancouver radio talk show, will argue that creating “no-protest” zones around abortion clinics is an unnecessary infringement on freedom of expression guarantees.

Formby, who described free-standing abortion clinics as “creatures of the Supreme Court,” said the legal system continues to create a favorable environment for free-standing abortion clinics.

Meanwhile, pro-life official in British Columbia, including Ted Gerk of the Pro Life Society of B.C., and Peter Ryan of the Vancouver archdiocesan Respect for Life office, expect the case to wind up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The leave to appeal is based on the pro-life community’s belief that the Judge Saunders erred by giving too narrow a scope to Charter of Rights freedom of religion, conscience and assembly guarantees.