Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 2, 2006
Christian alliance battles B.C. bubble zone
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
In British Columbia, someone who simply prays the rosary outside an abortion clinic could get arrested. The same thing could happen if that person hands out leaflets or long-stemmed roses. The province's Access to Abortion Services Act has created a "bubble zone" around clinics to ensure no woman seeking an abortion faces any obstacles.
The Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance (CRFA) thinks the act's definitions of "sidewalk interference" and "protest" are too broad. It has intervened in a constitutional challenge involving Donald Spratt before the B.C. Court of Appeal.
Spratt ran afoul of the "bubble zone" law by bearing a nine foot cross with a sign saying "Thou shalt not murder," and speaking about the need for repentance and God's forgiveness. A provincial court justice found Spratt guilty of "sidewalk interference" under the act. She said she was bound by a B.C. Supreme Court decision in the R. vs. Lewis case that found the bubble zone constitutional.
The alliance, composed of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and the Christian Legal Fellowship, argues in its legal brief or factum that the act infringes on freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
The factum, written by Julie Owen for the CRFA, argues that rights of conscience and freedom of expression only become meaningful in relation to other people. It points out no woman has been denied access to abortion through "sidewalk interference" or peaceful protests.
"The interests of women using the clinics and making difficult choices, often without adequate information, are more pressing than the interests of the service providers and clinic workers, who should not be deciding for them," it says.