VIEW ROYAL, British Columbia, October 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A local British Columbian pro-life group, turning up the pressure on Vancouver Island’s abortuary during the 40 Days for Life campaign, has caused a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to campaign for a bigger “bubble zone” around provincial abortion clinics, from 50 to 60 metres.
Maurine Karagianis, NDP MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads, has accused the pro-lifers of “verbal assault” and “emotional assault” on women “seeking services” at the Vancouver Island Women’s Clinic, which is directed by abortionist Dr. Konia Trouton.
“(Clinic staff) are very concerned about the really aggressive nature of the protestors,” she told Victoria News, adding that the “clinic is asking for the bubble zone to be increased so that they can push some of those protestors further back.”
Steve Weatherbe, President of Choose Life Victoria, is calling Karagianis’s claims “just bogus”.
“It’s just Karagianis interpreting our presence as assaultive,” he told LifeSiteNews.com.
Karagianis, who was re-elected in May, is the opposition critic for Women’s Issues and Child Care.
Choose Life Victoria is on day 29 of 40 Days for Life, a campaign to end abortion through prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil at abortion clinics, and community outreach.
Weatherbe said his group is always careful about how it interacts with people.
“We’re very careful — in our signage and what we do when people engage us in conversation — to be very passive, generous, charitable, and mild.”
But Karagianis believes that she has a valid case for a larger bubble zone. According to Victoria News, West Shore RCMP allegedly received a call about a member of the pro-life group entering the abortion clinic on October 10.
Weatherbe confirmed that a new member of the pro-life group did enter the abortuary to ask questions about the kinds of services provided, but that the woman did not violate the bubble zone ordinance since it is not illegal for a woman to seek information about what services a business provides.
“There are certain things you can’t do inside the bubble zone, and one of them isn’t that you can’t go and ask questions of the staff,” he said.
West Shore RCMP told LifeSiteNews that it did not have a record of the incident, and even if it did, it would not allow for its release.
Weatherbe said that Karagianis’ is trying to silence opposition to abortion.
“Her intention — her side will say anything — is to get us out of there because they want to create a moral vacuum around the clinic. They want a place where nobody questions what’s going on,” he said.
“They want [the abortion clinic] to continue going on as it did for tens years before we came on the scene. They want it to continue on as a place where nobody even knows [the clinic] exists so that the people of View Royal can go on complacently passing by everyday a place that kills a thousand babies a year.”
B.C.’s “bubble zone” law was passed in 1995, seven years after the 1988 Morgentaler decision where the Supreme Court decriminalized abortion, stripping away the few remaining legal protections offered to unborn babies. The law forced pro-life demonstrators away from abortion clinics. Violators can be fined up to $5000 and six months in jail, with greater penalties for subsequent offences.
B.C.’s Appeal Court upheld the bubble-zone law in 2008, with Justice Catherine Ryan ruling at that time that the “object of the Act is to protect vulnerable women and those who provide for their care to have safe, unimpeded access to health care services.” A further appeal was dismissed in April.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority has written a letter supporting Karagianis’ efforts to have the bubble zone increased, according to Victoria News. But View Royal City Council, however, has come out in opposition to the MLA’s efforts, since it says it has not received complaints from the clinic or its patients.
“So while it’s an interesting suggestion from our MLA, I think we probably need to hear other input, other concerns, favour for this,” said Counselor John Rogers to Vancouver Times.
Weatherbe said he is pleased that City Council is not supporting Karagianis’ initiative, and that it appears to him that Council “realizes the importance of free speech, fairness, and due process in a pluralistic democracy.”
Weatherbe said that pro-abortion citizens who vulgarly oppose his group’s peaceful and legal pro-life efforts should be the ones receiving the attention for their indecent and offensive behavior.
Weatherbe has witnessed residents living near the abortion clinic hurling abusive language at pro-lifers peacefully and prayerfully witnessing to life.
He related how one woman opened an apartment door nearby and exposed herself nude to the group. Another time this same woman appeared wearing a noose around her neck calling out that the group’s activities would make her commit suicide.
Horse manure and food scraps have been dumped where the pro-lifers witness in an effort to compel them to leave the area. Obscene chalked messages aimed at the pro-lifers have been written in the same area.
Weatherbe is discussing with his group how to best proceed. The current bubble zone law already puts his group across the street from the abortion clinic. If the zone area is increased, the group will be forced to place itself much further down the street, out of view of the clinic.
“We’re against this of course because then we wouldn’t have any impact on people going into the clinic, we wouldn’t be able to give those women a chance to reflect upon and question their own actions before they go in and get this quickie [abortion] operation,” he said.
“The whole thing is about creating a morality free zone.”
Mayor Graham Hill
View Royal Town Hall
45 View Royal Avenue, Victoria BC V9B 1A6
Phone: (250) 479-6800
Maurine Karagianis, Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA
A5-100 Aldersmith Place, Victoria, BC V9A 7M8
Phone: (250) 479 8326