Protecting choice for women accessing health care

Bill 9 has passed to help women access abortion services without fear of interference, harassment, threats or intimidation.

Status: Bill 9 passed May 30, 2018
Ministry responsible: Health

Overview

All Albertans should feel safe when accessing any health care service, including abortion services.

Bill 9: The Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act establishes new rules to:

  • help protect women and health care providers from safety and harassment concerns
  • remove barriers that impede access to abortion services

This legislation aims to strike a balance between Albertans’ right to free speech and Albertans’ right to safe and confidential access to health services.

Legislation

The new rules:

  • establish "access zones" of 50 metres for the clinics
  • ban protesting, interfering with or intimidating a patient, physician or service provider within an access zone
  • ban photographing, filming, or making any other audio or visual recording of a patient, physician or service provider who is within an access zone (without consent)
  • ban publishing or distributing a photo, video or any other recording of a patient, physician or service provider who was within an access zone, in order to try to convince a person not to access or provide abortion services
  • prohibit repeated communication by phone, mail or electronically (without consent) in order to try to convince a physician or service provider not to provide abortion services
  • establish penalties for contravening the act for both individuals and corporations

The rules also outline behaviours that are prohibited such as harassing a physician’s neighbours or friends in hopes it would influence the physician to longer provide abortion services.

Why rules are needed

Abortion has been legal in Canada for almost 30 years and is an insured service under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

Non-hospital clinics in Alberta have previously relied on court injunctions to limit the number, proximity and activities of protesters. However, clinics have reported a significant increase in protester activity and an escalation in aggressive behaviour over the past two years.

British Columbia has had similar legislation in place for the last 22 years.

Access zones

The maps shown below are for illustrative purposes only. Actual access zones would not apply to private property.

Map 1: Potential access zone around Women's Health Options

This map provides a visual representation of a 50 metre access zone around Women's Health Options in Edmonton.

Map 2: Potential access zone around Kensington Clinic

This map provides a visual representation of a 50 metre access zone around the Kensington Clinic in Calgary.

Timeline

Bill 9 comes into effect on upon receiving Royal Assent.

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