Thursday, September 04, 2008

"Because you're scary and unpleasant and occasionally one of you flips out and starts shooting people."

Abortion protesters in Vancouver asked the BC Appeals Court why they should have to follow a clinic bubble law.

The B.C. government brought in the law in 1995 after an escalating series of protests around the Bagshaw and Everywoman's Health clinics.

Protesters outside the clinics carried graphic signs, blocked the sidewalks and access and conducted so-called sidewalk counselling to try and dissuade women entering the clinic from getting an abortion.

But it was the November 1994 shooting and near-death of Vancouver abortion provider Dr. Garson Romalis that spurred the government to action.

Romalis was sitting at his breakfast table when he was shot by someone outside his house. The bullet shattered the bone in his leg and severed an artery.

American anti-abortion activist James Kopp is suspected in the shooting of Romalis, as well as the shootings of Dr. Hugh Short in the elbow at his home in Ancaster, Ont., in 1995, and Dr. Jack Fainman in the shoulder at his home in Winnipeg in 1997.

The court ruled that while the law did limit the free speech rights of the anti-abortion protesters it was justified by the competing rights of vulnerable women wanting to have a legal medical procedure without feeling intimidated or threatened.

UPDATE May 2009: A working link

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