Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 12, 1999
Court upholds injunction on abortion news
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Alberta Report newsmagazine won't need consent from Calgary's Regional Health Authority to write about genetic abortions anymore.
However, an injunction preventing the magazine from publishing the names of doctors and patients working on the abortions will remain in effect. The ruling also barred the magazine from giving examples of specific genetic abortions.
Justice Ged Hawco, who ruled on the matter June 30, said "it is not in the public interest to put the safety of the doctors or the staff at risk."
Lawyers for the CRHA, Alberta Report and The Edmonton Journal were to submit drafts on how Hawco's injunction should be worded.
Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield said he was "profoundly unhappy" with the ruling, although he conceded "it is a relief to be able to publish without the CRHA's permission."
The CRHA took the issue to court after Alberta Report published two stories about late-term abortions of babies with severe physical abnormalities at Foothills Hospital.
The magazine used leaked memos and detailed accounts from three unidentified nurses to report that the hospital was forcing nurses to assist in eugenic abortions and infanticide.
The documents included the names of two doctors and several other staffers involved in genetic terminations.
Alberta Report did not publish any names but did detail a nurse's account of how nurses took turns rocking and holding a baby for 12 hours until it died.
The CRHA asked the courts to prevent the magazine from using "illegally obtained" information which it said may compromise the privacy of patients and the safety of staff.
The CRHA won a temporary injunction April 30 prohibiting any further publication of information contained in the documents or from staff without the authority's approval.
Alberta Report and Southam Inc., represented by The Edmonton Journal, fought that injunction and according to The Journal, they emerged from the June 24 hearing "satisfied that the wide scope of the original order will be significantly narrowed."
The Journal quoted Alberta Report lawyer Don Ingram as saying it was a relief to know that general information on the topic can be published without the CRHA's consent.
Byfield wasn't so cheerful, saying "there has been almost no progress."
"Now we can write about some things but not on others. When it comes to genetic terminations we cannot give examples even if we don't (publish) names."
The CRHA's argument that it is just trying to prevent the magazine from "divulging patient identities" doesn't hold any water because Alberta Report isn't interested in publishing names, Byfield said.
"We don't want to name the patients. We just want to tell (the story) and give examples without giving names."