The Saskatchewan Court of Appeals has ruled that the suspension of a pro-life protester’s nursing license by the Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN) was unconstitutional.

In 2002, Bill Whatcott, a licensed practical nurse, participated in a protest outside the Regina Planned Parenthood offices. The association judged Whatcott’s protest to have constituted “professional misconduct” and suspended his nursing license, while fining him $15,000.

Whatcott admitted in a court hearing to having carried signs with pictures of fetuses and captions saying, “Planned Parenthood aborts babies,” “Planned Parenthood refers for abortions,” “God’s gift of life” and “Choice is abortion.” Whatcott lost his initial case at the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench and his appeal was later dismissed.

Court documents in the appeal noted that the SALPN disciplinary committee did not address constitutional issues of Whatcott’s freedom of expression. Whatcott’s appeal was upheld by the court, which said the case raised “constitutional law issues pertaining to freedom of expression.”

The ruling said, “The discipline committee did not engage in any of the balancing necessary to weigh Mr. Whatcott’s right to work, the high standards to which nurses must aspire and free speech. Given the existence of the interim injunction and the means to enforce it, one would not think the discipline committee’s decision was a proportionate response.”

The justices wrote that the SALPN had failed to demonstrate the restriction on Whatcott’s freedom of expression was reasonable “and the decision is thus unconstitutional.”

Whatcott praised the court decision, not only on his own behalf, but because it sets a precedent for other health care professionals who conscientiously object to abortion.

He wrote, “Christians and other moral Canadians, dentists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, as well as nurses can reference my case if they are bullied by their professional organizations as a result of a stand they take on a moral issue during their time off work.”

This article originally appeared at Jan. 18 and is reprinted with permission.