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Manitoba rejects bill blocking peaceful pro-life protests at abortion mills

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MANITOBA, December 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Manitoba Legislature rejected Thursday legislation that would have established “bubble zones” forbidding pro-life activists from protesting or sidewalk counseling near any abortion facility in the province.

Introduced in November by Opposition house leader Nahanni Fontaine, the so-called Safe Access to Abortion Services Act would have barred any “oral, written or graphic” expression of “disapproval concerning issues related to abortion services” within as many as 150 meters of an abortion center, including attempts to dissuade women from entering the building. It also would have banned filming, photographing, sketching, or even “repeatedly” observing anyone entering the building.

“I understand the need and the right of individuals to protest for something that they feel is important to them. I get that, I support that,” Fontaine claimed. “What I’m saying is that protests should not impact on Manitoba women’s and girls’ right[s]. It is a human right to access reproductive health.”

But the New Democratic Party (NDP) bill failed to win the support of the majority Progressive Conservative government, CBC News reports. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister rejected the proposal on the grounds that it would encroach on people’s right to peacefully protest.

Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) hailed the news as “awesome,” and thanked Pallister “for defeating this unnecessary piece of legislation.”

Maria Slykerman, president of CLC’s Manitoba chapter and 40 Days for Life organizer, previously disputed Fontaine’s case for the bill’s necessity. Slykerman has participated in annual prayer vigils outside of Health Sciences Women’s Hospital, and says her group has never spoken to women entering the facility, let alone witnessed any shouting from pro-lifers.

“We don't even see the women who are going into the hospitals, because they go in through the back door,” she explained last month. Fontaine “might have seen the other side. The pro-aborts were there with ugly signs and foghorns and screaming. They were right in front of us.”

Similar bubble zone laws are currently in effect in Ontario and Alberta. Abortion advocates have pushed for such measures in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia as well.

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