BC appeal court approves “no-go” zones around abortion clinics, rejects appeal by protestors

British Columbia’s court of appeal has rejected an appeal by two anti-abortion protesters against a conviction that affirmed the constitutionality of British Columbia’s Access to Abortion Services Act which, in 1995, created an “access zone” or “bubble” around abortion providers in which interference of any kind with those seeking service was prohibited.

The Attorney General, Wally Opal, has welcomed the decision: “We’re pleased with the result. The Crown conceded that this legislation is an infringement of freedom of expression but it’s justifiable, it serves a legitimate purpose in a free and democratic society,”

The law was introduced after a series of unruly protests and the shooting of a doctor, Garson Romalis.  The protestors, Donald Spratt and Gordon Watson, were each appealing a conviction under the provisions of the Act, in a 1998 protest in east Vancouver in which they set out to test it.  They argued that the law unreasonably abridged their rights of free expression.

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