By Rachel Bell 
BELLEVILLE – Pro-choice activists are applauding the new bill Ontario has introduced to ensure women have safe access to abortion services.
The bill would protect a woman’s right to choose and access abortion services without fear of interference, intimidation or harassment.
Its goal is to allow for safe access zones to be established around clinics and facilities that offer abortion services, the homes of clinic staff, as well as the homes and offices of other health professionals who provide abortion services.
Sarah Hobbs Blyth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Toronto , says it is a client’s right to access abortion clinics without difficulties.
“Safe Access Zones put health equity first. These zones protect our clients’ right to access the services that they need without harassment. The intimidation tactics used by anti-choice protesters harm those accessing mental health, primary care, and abortion services alike. We commend the province for introducing legislation that will safeguard reproductive choice and other healthcare services,” she said.
People who are caught harassing women within safe access zones would face fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months upon their first offence. For second and subsequent offences, fines could range between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.
Sandy Watson- Moyles, executive director of Three Oaks Shelter and Services in Belleville said the bill is a positive thing, especially since the organization is pro-choice.
“As with any other medical procedure, woman have the right to have an abortion without harassment,” she said.
She said she believes it is a procedure that is between the woman and her body.