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Updated: 8th January 2019 07:34

NDP government looks at legislating safe zones around abortion clinics

Pro-choice supporters are welcoming news that the NDP government is considering legislating safe zones around abortion clinics to protect against menacing protesters.

'I've heard people taking pictures of people going in and out'

Advocates say legislated safe zones are needed outside abortion clinics to protect clients from harassment. In this file photo, an anti-abortion protester in Newfoundland stands across the street from a local clinic. (CBC)

Pro-choice supporters welcomed news this week that the NDP government is considering legislation to create safe zones around abortion clinics to protect women from menacing protesters.

Prior to the throne speech on Thursday, which was also International Women's Day, Premier Rachel Notley said the NDP government is looking at legislation that would establish protective perimeters, noting the harassment women can face.

"Frankly, it's just not something women should put up with," said Notley. "We have a law in this country ... and we know that women should have a right to access that law."

Kathy Dawson with the Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition told CBC that protection is needed for women accessing abortion services who face bullying and intimidation.

"They stand there with their posters so they can see people going in and out," said Dawson. "I've heard people taking pictures of people going in and out."

"It comes down to privacy, privacy to go about your business."

Clinics in Edmonton and Calgary have obtained injunctions to keep demonstrators at bay.

Last month, Ontario established safe zones at clinics after the passage of the The Safe Access to Abortion Services Act.

Safe zones are not automatic at other health facilities where abortion services are provided, but hospitals and pharmacies can apply for them.

The United Conservative Party declined to comment.

"We don't comment on legislation that we haven't seen," wrote UCP spokesperson Blaise Boehmer Thursday.

Previously, UCP Leader Jason Kenney has said he believes in the value of human life but he has never proposed a motion or a bill on abortion.

The Alberta Party is in favour of establishing robust safe zones, said status of women critic Karen McPherson.

"If we think about anybody accessing any legal health care service there shouldn't be anything that comes in the way of somebody being able to access those," said McPherson. "We consider those to be a human right. Health care is a right that everybody has."

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