TORONTO, October 10, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — After Ontario Liberals rejected a Conservative motion last week to fast-track a sweeping law criminalizing pro-life activities outside abortion centers, critics and media accused them of playing politics with abortion eight months before a provincial election.
But Campaign Life Coalition senior political strategist Jack Fonseca warns MPPs not to lose sight of the fact that Bill 163 violates the Charter and should be opposed regardless of one’s view on abortion.
“This is fundamentally a free speech issue,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“As such, the proposed legislation strikes at the heart of our democracy, our western civilization. If we don’t have free speech, we are not a free people. Period.”
Introduced by Attorney General Yasir Naqvi on October 4, Bill 163, or the Protecting a Woman’s Right to Access Abortion Services Act, outlaws all pro-life activity, including sidewalk counselling, within 50 meters of Ontario’s eight abortion centres — a distance that can be increased to 150 meters on request.
It also automatically establishes 150-meter zones around the homes of abortionists and abortion center staff, which will move with abortion providers to protect them wherever they are, Naqvi told reporters in an October 4 press conference.
Moreover, any healthcare facility that commits abortions can apply for “safe access” zones of up to 150 meters under the bill.
That includes pharmacies, which under Ontario’s health insurance plan can now dispense the abortion pill for free.
Brown supports abortion and Liberal bill
The Liberals are pushing the bill as necessary to protect women by promoting the false narrative that pro-life advocates intimidate women outside abortion facilities.
It’s a narrative the media uncritically repeat as fact, as do some Conservatives — including leader Patrick Brown.
“Let me be very clear: I am pro-choice. That includes protecting women exercising their rights from intimidation or harassment,” Brown said in a statement released just before Naqvi announced the bill.
And Conservatives present at Queen’s Park the next day promised unanimous consent, with MPP Lisa MacLeod putting forward a motion to pass the bill the same day with no debate.
The Liberals rejected the motion, with Naqvi’s office releasing a statement that abortion advocates should have a chance to “provide input to strengthen the bill during the committee process,” reported the CBC.
In the ensuing press excoriation of the Liberals for delaying the bill to divide the Tories, pundits reflexively painted pro-lifers as villains.
“In the weeks and months ahead, women seeking abortions in Ontario may continue to be harassed by protesters seeking to humiliate them,” wrote the Globe’s Adam Radwanski.
“They may be yelled at, personally insulted, accused of being murderers. They may find their paths toward clinics obstructed as gruesome images are waved in their faces. They may be spat at.”
Echoing this was Andre Marin, the unsuccessful PC Party candidate for Ottawa-Vanier in the November 2016 by-election who called for Brown to declare war on social conservatives.
“Harassers have been in plain view with big, screaming anti-abortion placards dishing out obscenities and insults at whoever gets close to the clinic doors,” he wrote in the Toronto Sun.
Liberal line a lie: Campaign Life
This is a “bald-faced lie,” says Fonseca.
“As a rule, pro-lifers at abortion facilities are peaceful and prayerful,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“Offering a woman a pamphlet is not an act of violence. Offering a woman information about the development of her baby in-utero that she may never have seen before is not assault,” he said.
“Offering support and help to a woman who thinks the violence of abortion is her only option is not harassment, but a loving response to a woman in a difficult situation,” added Fonseca.
“In fact, it may save her from post-abortion trauma, higher risk for suicidality, and serious adverse medical complications such as perforations, sepsis, infertility) that are so common in women who’ve aborted,” he said.
Moreover, to offer such information is “legitimate free expression on a public sidewalk that nobody should ever think of banning as criminal acts.”
Will Brown whip vote?
Despite the inflammatory rhetoric surrounding Bill 163, and Brown’s hostility to social conservatives, the Tory leader hasn’t said publicly if he’ll whip the vote.
Brown whipped the vote for Bill 28, which legally redefined the family to appease LGBTQ activists.
He also whipped second reading vote on Bill 89, which enshrined the LGBTQ agenda in the province’s child welfare and adoption services.
But when a handful of MPPs refused to vote for Bill 89 on third reading, Brown agreed to caucus voting against it. Brown also faced pressure on Bill 89 from Campaign Life, Parents As First Educators (PAFE), and the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), noted Fonseca.
Fonseca hopes caucus and the party grassroots will similarly pressure Brown to allow a free vote on Bill 163.
“There are certainly many PC MPPs who can’t possibly agree with this unconstitutional legislation,” he said.
Fonseca also hopes pro-life government MPPs will vote against the bill, as well as those concerned about free speech.
“Maybe you’re pro-abortion, and would love to stick it to pro-lifers because you dislike their views,” he said.
But there’s a “bigger issue at stake here than the politics of abortion,” added Fonseca.
“Do you really want to grant the state the power to deny some Canadians their fundamental constitutional rights, on the basis of their ethical, religious or political opinions?” he said.
“Today it’s those pesky pro-lifers. Tomorrow it could be a different group that shares your values. It might even be you.”
Campaign Life asks concerned individuals write their MPPs to oppose the bill. To find out who your MPP is, go to Campaign Life’s website here.
Campaign Life also asking people to sign the petition opposing Bill 163, found here.