by Dr. Laura Lewis
This week I had the opportunity to speak with a CBC correspondent about the recent “Bubble Zone” law (Bill 163, Protecting a Woman’s Right to Access Abortion Services Act, 2017), passed October 25th in the Ontario legislature.
“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.” Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General
“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.” Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women
A woman’s right to choose, to choose without fear or intimidation – I agree with this. However, I would add that a woman should also be empowered with accurate information, practical support, and the encouragement she may need to choose well. All women should have a protected right to freedom from harassment and a safe place to make a well-informed choice.
I think Bill 163 presents an opportunity to speak to the other side of harassment and bullying – the coercion that many women face to have an abortion they do not want. If we’re going to talk about protecting women, let’s talk about these women as well. They need protection also.
The Bubble Zone discussion represents an opening in the dialogue regarding abortion, a conversation that many of us have been waiting to have for years. It is an opportunity to be able to disagree, agreeably. Surely that fits within the context of a diverse, inclusive culture.
I feel the CBC interview did not convey my points well. And yet, I am still thankful to have had the opportunity to share a different point of view, one that is sadly either misrepresented or not represented at all. I am always thankful to speak the truth about pregnancy care centres and the need they fill in our communities, and to expand the dialogue on abortion … even if it is just one conversation at a time.
There is much work to be done. Local pregnancy care centres play a vital role in truly empowering women to make a well-informed choice. Pregnancy care centres fill a unique void in Canada – a safe place for women and men to receive accurate information and loving support when faced with an unplanned pregnancy decision. We stand together to protect the rights of those women and men. Thank you for standing with us.
Laura Lewis, MD, CCFP
Executive Director, Pregnancy Care Canada