Newfoundland Pro-lifes

In late June, lawyers for three Newfoundland pro-lifers and the Athena Health Center abortion mill in St. John’s, agreed to the creation of a 40-meter bubble zone around which there will be no protests.

Rolanda Ryan, owner of the Athena Health Centre – the abortion facility at the site of what was once Henry Morgentaler’s first Atlantic Canada abortuary -– said the agreement was a “huge victory for the women of the province” because “for the first time in 26 years a woman in Newfoundland can come to the clinic and have an abortion without fear of being harassed or intimidated or photographed or in any way approached by a protester.”

Margie Hynes of Campaign Life Coalition Newfoundland and Labrador said there have never been incidents of violence or intimidation in the quarter century of pro-life activism at the site. Colette Fleming, one of the named pro-lifers in the case, has been praying outside the abortion mill for 25 years, and she told LifeSiteNews that, “we don’t harrass anyone, we don’t stop anyone, we don’t speak to anyone unless they approach us.” She said they merely hold signs with messages such as “Love them both” above a mother and baby or “Abortion stops a beating heart.”

Originally, Ryan was seeking a 100-meter bubble zone, but Bob Simmonds, the lawyer for Patrick Hanlon and Fleming, bargained it down to 40 meters. He said the deal avoids a costly trial. Simmonds said the decision balanced freedom of speech with a woman’s right to access a legal health care service without intimidation.

Ryan launched the suit last November. Ryan’s lawyer Lynn Moore told the CBC, “We were prepared to compromise recognizing that people have the right to freedom of expression.”

Simmonds said the deal was “a resolution that I’m sure both sides are not 100 per cent happy with, but both sides realize strikes that balance.” Yet Mari-Lynne Sinnott and Kelly Monaghan, abortionists at Athena, told the CBC in unison, “we’re so happy.” Monaghan said abortion has long been legal in Canada and, “this boundary really enshrines that right in a very practical way.”

The consent order extends to all people, not just Fleming and Hanlon, and it was approved by Newfoundland Supreme Court judge Raymond Whalen, who originally indicated he was concerned about applying the ban to all protesters. He said he changed his mind when he was convinced it was permissible by the fact that other provinces also ban peaceful pro-life protests.

British Columbia’s Access to Abortion Services Act was enacted in 1995 and it outlaws protests within 10 meters of a doctor’s office, 50 meters of hospital or free-standing abortion facilities, and 160 meters of the homes of abortionists or abortion mill staff. It prohibits protests, sidewalk counseling, and physical interference of those entering abortion facilities.

Injunctions in Calgary and Toronto shield abortion facilities from protests and sidewalk counseling. In Calgary, protesters must remain across the street of the Kensington abortuary, as well as limits the number of protesters. In Toronto, a temporary injunction was granted in 1994 that is still in place, providing for a 60-foot bubble zone around the Cabbagetown and Scott abortuaries in downtown Toronto and a 25-foot bubble zone around doctor’s offices.

Ryan says she would like law establishing bubble zones in the province. Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said he supports the idea and has committed the Liberal government to tabling such legislation this fall. He has indicated how big a bubble zone the government is considering. The provincial NDP are calling for a 50-meter bubble zone around abortion facilities.

Fleming told LifeSiteNews that regardless of the bubble zone, “we will carry on somehow in the cause of life.”