OTTAWA, Canada – Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Canada, called into question Ontario’s new “bubble zone law,” which he said restricts the peaceful efforts of the pro-life movement.
“The bubble zone law could effectively kill the National March for Life held each May in Ottawa,” said Prendergast in an Oct. 28 column for the Ottawa Sun.
“The law could also suppress the annual Life Chain as well as the 40 Days for Life events that have been a peaceful witness against abortion for years.”
The bubble zone – also known as a “buffer zone” – law was passed last week in Ontario. It restricts pro-life activists from protesting within 50-150 meter parameters established outside of abortion clinics, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices.
The abortion issue is far from settled in the minds of Canadians, Prendergast said, pointing to polls showing that most people in the country favor some restrictions on abortion.
“Some may disagree, but they do not have the natural right to silence an opposing view,” the archbishop emphasized. “All freedoms are threatened when the state mutes selected opinions about a pressing social and moral issue. You should be profoundly concerned about the disproportionate scope of this law, whether or not you support abortions.”
Prendergast said there is no route for the March for Life to move through downtown Ottawa that does not violate the 50-meter restriction.
The law impedes the “thousands of Canadians” who “show their opposition to the killing of human life in the womb” by peaceful protest, he said, adding that “any incidents of screams, threats and pushing have come from counter-protesters such as Femen demonstrators.”
And while there is the rare occasion in which a protester will cross the line and engage in harassing behavior, the archbishop acknowledged, these situations can be dealt with as they arise.
“The police should deal with people who are causing problems under the current laws that prohibit trespassing, harassment and assault,” he said. “They should not prevent peaceful and respectful protest.”
He lamented that the three major political parties did not reconsider the law before passing it.
“I join all fair-minded Ontarians who ask the legislature to repeal this law and restore free speech regarding abortion,” he said.