The province says they have expanded a “bubble-zone” around the Vancouver Island Women’s Clinic, to protect its staff and people accessing the clinic from harassment and intimidation.
The announcement was made Friday, and the zone has expanded from an original distance of 10 metres to approximately 50 metres for the clinic on the 200 block of Helmcken Road in Victoria.
The B.C. Government says Protests, interference, intimidation and recording of those providing abortion services or of patients are prohibited within the zone.
The province adds that for a number of years the clinic has been subject to regular protests and that there have been reports of bullying and harassment.
The Ministry of Helath cites correspondence describing incidents such as thousands of nails being left scattered in the parking lot, a bloody glove left on a staff member’s car and photographing or filming of clinic staff who were assessing the clinic site for physical access issues.
“All people who use the B.C. health-care system, and who provide services for it, should be treated with courtesy, and with respect for their dignity and privacy,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix in a statement.
“Access zones work to ensure this, and to support women seeking health-care services, staff providing the services and others visiting the facility,”
They say the main protests are held by the “40 Days for Life” organization, and that in a recent incident a protestor unlawfully entered the clinic.
The group is an international, religiously-based pro-life organization.
The Ministry adds that people who do not respect the zone and continue to protest in it can be arrested without a warrant by a provincial or municipal constable.
The zone has been put in place under B.C.’s Access to Abortion Services Act.
It establishes bubble zones of 10 metres around the offices of doctors who provide abortion services, 160 metres around their homes, and allows for the enactment of a regulation establishing a zone of up to 50 metres around facilities where abortion services are provided.
“We have made an effort to balance protestors’ rights to freedom of expression, with the rights of patients and providers to have an intimidation-free environment.” added Minister Dix.