Today Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Catherine McKenney met with Catherine Macnab, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood, and Melissa Heimerl, Executive Director, Ottawa Victim Services, to discuss how to improve access to abortion services in an environment free from threats, intimidation, harassment and violence, and in a manner that respects their dignity and privacy.
In a letter to the Attorney General of Ontario, Mayor Watson has asked Minister Yasir Naqvi to safeguard access to health care, including abortion services, by reviewing the possibility of enacting an Access to Abortion Services Act for the City of Ottawa and for the rest of the Province of Ontario. The City of Ottawa’s legal counsel has extensively reviewed the options available and suggests that the best and most effective option to provide a safe environment for patients seeking abortion services would be to mirror the legislation enacted by the Provinces of British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
This step would help to ensure that patients seeking – and staff providing – abortion services have the same protections, whether they are in Toronto, Ottawa, or anywhere else in Ontario.
These measures have been taken following recent reports of patients and staff who, while trying to access the Ottawa Morgentaler Clinic, are repeatedly confronted by protesters and sidewalk “counsellors” trying to prevent them from accessing these health services.
“Reproductive rights are human rights,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Anyone seeking or providing abortion services should have the right to do so without feeling harassed, threatened, ashamed or afraid for their safety. This legislation would help ensure that those individuals have the protection they need.”
“Women have a right to safe access for all health care services, including abortion,” said Councillor McKenney. “We look forward to the Province addressing the need to create an access zone around the Morgentaler Clinic to ensure that women can access this critical service without being assaulted or harassed”.
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