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Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst, New Brunswick
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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‘Outrageous’: Pro-life prayer group banned from hospital

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

BATHURST, New Brunswick, May 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — While the U.S. has struck down anti-life "buffer zones" on public sidewalks outside abortion clinics, Canada is still fighting pro-life free speech.

Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Reginald Leger issued a permanent injunction against 40 Days for Life pro-lifers seeking to peacefully pray and talk to women considering abortion outside Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst.  

Leger justified his decision by saying pro-life praying puts the safety of patients and employees at risk.

"This is outrageous and shameful," 40 Days for Life President Shawn Carney told LifeSiteNews. "In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down anti-free speech zones in Massachusetts, but Canada is fighting free speech like no one in the U.S."

"I wonder what kind of country these judges want," Carney added. "If you can't freely and peacefully gather on public property, then what can you do?"

On Monday, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi introduced legislation creating protest-excluded zones outside any facility that does abortions, including public hospitals.  

Newfoundland and Labrador introduced buffer zone laws keeping pro-lifers 50 meters (164 feet) from abortion mills or face jail time. Naqvi's proposed legislation goes much further, establishing the entire sprawling hospital campus as an anti-free speech zone.

Naqvi says the new legislation is "in response to several incidents of harassment."

Chaleur Regional Hospital is run by the Vitalite Health Network, which asked for the injunction, claiming that once in 2012 pro-lifers obstructed ambulance traffic at the hospital.

Paramedic Michel Fournier testified that a pro-lifer stepped off the sidewalk, requiring him to hit the brakes of his ambulance, which caused a paramedic to lose balance and momentarily dislodge a patient's mask.

40 Days for Life activists dispute the charge that they intentionally blocked traffic, or that they are any threat to the safety of patients and employees. Pro-life activist Bernard Jacques testified that the group is mostly older people peacefully praying and sharing information to raise awareness about abortion.

Fellow pro-life activist Ronald Jessulat added that citizens have the right to share their convictions in public.

Planned Parenthood Ottawa supports the Attorney General's anti-life legislation.

Last month, New Brunswick declared it will give out the dangerous abortion drug Mifegymiso to women for free, via taxpayer funds. Mifegymiso is commonly known as RU-486, a sometimes deadly combination of mifepristone and misoprostol.

In 2014, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant eliminated a pro-life requirement of two doctors' approvals for an abortion.

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