By Gudrun Schultz
REGINA, Saskatchewan, July 20, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Saskatchewan judge has dismissed an appeal by prominent pro-life demonstrator Bill Whatcott, who sought to have a 2005 disciplinary ruling against him overturned, the Leader-Post reported Wednesday.
The discipline committee of the Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses convicted Whatcott of unprofessional conduct in January 2005, for demonstrating in front of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Regina. Although SALPN admitted that demonstrating was not illegal, the organization accused Whatcott of intimidating patients and making untrue statements about the abortion clinic.
The disciplinary committee agreed and fined Whatcott $15,000 to cover legal costs. Whatcott was also given a 45-day suspension of his nursing licence.
Whatcott appealed the decision on the grounds that he was not picketing in front of the clinic in any professional capacity. He also claimed his freedom of expression was infringed upon by the committee’s decision.
Justice Ron Barclay did not agree, however, and handed down a written decision on Tuesday saying Whatcott violated a SALPN bylaw by his actions during the protest. As a health service provider, the judge said, Whatcott could be held accountable for the “harm” his actions reportedly caused abortion clinic patients.
“Even though the appellant was off duty while these acts occurred, his actions caused harm to the patients of the Planned Parenthood centre which provides health services to the community,” wrote Judge Barclay. “In other words, the activities or conduct of the appellant negatively impacted the health system as it relates to the Planned Parenthood centre.”
Judge Barclay admitted that one section of The Licensed Practical Nurses Act, 2000 might constitute an infringement on freedom of expression. However, he said Whatcott was still guilty of making “defamatory” and untrue statements against Planned Parenthood Regina.
Whatcott had a previous conviction of obstructing a police officer overturned, after the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that Whatcott was acting within his rights when he displayed graphic abortion pictures to rush hour traffic. A police officer had charged him with obstruction when Whatcott moved to pick up another sign, after the officer had confiscated one he had on display.
See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
PRO-LIFE ACTIVIST WHATCOTT ARRESTED
Queen’s Bench Court Rules Graphic Abortion Photos Protected by Charter
Sask. Judge Dismisses Appeal of Pro-Life Demonstrator
By Gudrun Schultz
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