Ontario Passes Legislation to Protect Women's Right to Choose
New Law to Help Ensure Safe Access to Abortion Clinics
Today, Ontario passed legislation that will protect a woman's right to choose and access abortion services without fear of interference, intimidation or harassment.
The Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, 2017 allows for safe access zones to be established around facilities that offer abortion services as well as the homes and offices of regulated abortion providers.
Under this legislation, abortion clinics in Ontario will have safe access zones of 50 metres, which can be decreased or increased up to 150 metres by regulation.
Facilities and offices that offer abortion services will be able to apply for safe access zones of up to 150 metres. Regulated health professionals who provide abortion services outside of clinics will also be able to apply for safe access zones of up to 150 metres around their offices.
Prohibited activities within safe access zones around clinics, facilities, and offices include:
- Advising a person to refrain from accessing abortion services
- Abortion-related protests
- Activities that intimidate or physically interfere with individuals accessing or providing abortion services.
Abortion providers will also receive automatic safe access zones of up to 150 metres around their homes. The legislation also includes a general anti-harassment provision that protects clinic staff and abortion providers anywhere in Ontario.
- The safe access zones would include the property on which the clinic, facility, office, or house is located, and start at the boundaries of that property.
- The Ministry of the Attorney General will be working with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to educate health and law enforcement partners about the new law.
- People who engage in any of the prohibited activities within safe access zones would face fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months upon their first offence. For second and subsequent offences, fines could range between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.
- In safe access zones around homes, activities that are directly targeted at, or are about, the clinic staff or health care professionals that provide abortion services would be prohibited.
“Our government believes that every woman in Ontario has the right to make decisions about her own heath care – and she deserves to do so freely, without fear. This legislation sends a clear message that we will always stand up for a woman’s right to choose.”
“This legislation, which allows for safe zones to be created around facilities, offices and the homes of regulated abortion providers upholds a woman’s right to choose. Women in Ontario will finally have safe and equal access to abortion services, free from harassment, bullying or violence. This act demonstrates our government’s commitment to the security, equality and empowerment of women in Ontario.”