You can’t turn on any sort of media today and not hear about how freedom of speech is being questioned and tested. Just because we are free to say anything, does it mean you should? We have all heard the stories that are gracing the pages of the news feed or paper. Racists tweets, Leaders calling out other leaders, Actors “F’ bombing the US president (the word I am referring too isn’t Feminist :P), people calling police because there is a “black” family having a picnic in the park, however of all of these, it the law that came to pass in Alberta May 30.
“No-protest zones around abortion clinics” This bill states that there can be no protests against abortion within a 50 meters of a clinic, a doctor’s office or a home of a doctor that performs abortions. Bill 9, was passed Wednesday May 30 by a count of 45-1 in the final round. If the terms are broken the person could face fines up to $10,000 or a year in jail, if not both. This bill probably for obvious reasons did not have a smooth road to being passed. In fact I read on global news.ca that United Conservative Party (UCP) walked out a total of 14 times refusing to even discuss its terms in the house. SO… this is now the question, is the bill infringing on people’s freedom of speech? According to and Independent Derek Fildebrandt (the only one to vote against Bill 9), said the women and staff shouldn’t be harassed outside the clinic however he believes the bill is limiting freedom of speech.
As a pro-choice advocate, I think it is great that there will be a law in place allowing for patients, family and friends of patients, and staff to get inside clinic, office, or home free of harassment. I mean we are not telling the protesters they can’t say what they want or that they cannot be heard, we are just telling them they have to do it 50 meters from the door. Is that taking their freedom away, or limiting it? Is the flip coin, of being told you can’t say what you believe in the faces of those that opinions differ from yours, I can see how angry and unjust they might feel that is. It is a risky position to take. I feel so strongly about both issues and they are at odds with each other. I don’t want anyone telling me what I can and can not do with my uterus,calling me names shouting at me as I enter a clinic, however is my freedom of choice worth more than your freedom of speech?
I know where I stand on the debate. I was speaking about it today, if a safe guard for protesting needs to be put in place there is obviously a bigger issue in play but Pro-choice Pro-life debate (however “Feminist” that may make me, I can see both sides) is not something I am interested in having. I am more concerned with laws or with leaders that would dare take more than my choice but my voice away. I believe that every individual has a right to their own opinion, however if their thoughts, opinions or actions threaten another person, there must be a check for the balance and that is where the laws come in. In regards to protesters outside abortion clinics, they are not always peaceful, they have been known to get “ugly”, making a choice like abortion is never an easy one, it weighs on you, it is not something you just decide and thats that. The choice itself brings struggle and when that choice is made and the woman goes to the clinic she should be free from any harassment. I think that Bill 9 is needed for that reason alone. To respect the choices of the people involved in the clinic whatever their reason (patient or employee). As a supporter of this bill I am not telling those said protesters that they can no longer have a say; I am just saying they can’t do it at the expense of someone elses. It is a slippery slope, I understand that how much is too much? I think it is necessary to continue challenging each other and provoking thought like this, it is the only way to more forward and not backwards…..