Pro-lifers on both sides of the border are closely monitoring two American court cases which deal with controversial issues of injunctions and informed consent.
On February 11, an Arizona District Court judge ruled on “bubble zones” which the city of Phoenix had set up around various abortion facilities. These “bubble zones” blocked pro-lifers from demonstrating or counseling within 100 feet of Phoenix area abortion facilities.
For many years, Canadian pro-abortionists have effectively used “bubble zones” (injunctions) as lethal weapons to discourage pro-life presence in front of their facilities.
Injunctions are always imposed in the name of protecting women from “violent” pro-lifers but most civil rights proponents will quietly admit that these barriers operate in violation of constitutional rights. In Canada, appeal after appeal to overturn injunctions has failed and they stand as the norm in most major centres.
However, Americans have always placed a greater emphasis on their individual constitutional rights and Judge Stephen McNamee of the Arizona District Court ruled that the First Amendment, which covers free speech, free assembly, free press and equal protection before the law, could not be overruled by a city ordinance. The Phoenix “bubble zones” were declared unconstitutional and dismantled – a major victory for pro-lifers who will use this ruling to combat similar zones in five other American centres.
On another front, Michigan courts (as of publication) are wrangling over the issue of informed consent. A new Michigan law, which has already been signed by Governor John Engler and was to have taken effect on April 1, says that women considering abortion must be shown pictures of the developing unborn child, informed about possible complications which may arise following an abortion and wait 24 hours before having the procedure.
Opponents of the law claim that the informed consent material is biased and designed to scare women from having an abortion and have appealed to the courts to block the law. On March 18, a U.S. District Court Judge delayed the law’s implementation and both sides will have to wait for a June 20 ruling to decide its constitutionality.