Earlier last week, The Safe Access to Abortion Services Act came into effect within Ontario after receiving royal assent last October.
The bill places a ban on anti-abortion protesting within 50-metres of any abortion clinic. Other care facilities such as hospitals and pharmacies, however, must apply for the safe access zone being that they were not automatically included within the legislation.
The bill was ultimately passed in light of increased violence and protest sightings surrounding reproductive rights.
Although Branford sees minimal anti-abortion advocacy throughout the year, a bigger issue facing those living in Brantford is the lack of abortion supports and resources available to those who wish to seek them.
Amber Kinzie, co-coordinator of Laurier Brantford Women’s Centre, said that this severe lack in resources keeps women and trans people from acquiring the necessary information, support and ability to be aware of their choices.
While Brant Pregnancy and Resource Centre, one of the only main abortion care resources available, provides clients with options when considering an abortion, the centre is ultimately faith-based.
“If I’m not mistaken they’re a very pro-life organization. So it’s not very much about giving them the choices,” Kinzie said.
For many individuals in Brantford who choose to seek abortion care, often the closest clinics are in Kitchener-Waterloo or Mississauga.
“When you’re looking at people who are younger and maybe are not able to afford or get access to transportation, that becomes a really big issue,” Kinzie said.
Although cities surrounding Brantford, such as Guelph and Waterloo, have more prominent abortion care resources, these cities have also seen an influx in anti-abortion protests. In contrast, the presence of protests within Brantford has been minimal over the past few years.
For example, in the Waterloo Region, protestors are seen for 40 days straight outside of Grand River Hospital’s Freeport Campus location. Despite these regular protests, Grand River Hospital has chosen to refrain from applying for a safe access zone, causing a wave of controversy within the Region.
The Sexual Health Options Resources Eduction (SHORE) Centre in Waterloo has been a public supporter of reproductive rights and has been an advocate on behalf of many community members who have experienced the negative effects of anti-abortion protestors.
Being that a resource similar to the SHORE Centre in Waterloo does not exist in Brantford, the women’s centre works to provide adequate support for students.
“The support we provide is just making sure that they’re aware of the options and helping them out with getting transportation or getting access to the resources they need,” Kinzie said.
“Our job is bridging that gap that isn’t in Brantford — so if they have to get to Kitchener-Waterloo, we’re there to talk to them and support them and find them resources that can get them there.”
It is currently unknown as to whether the Brantford General Hospital will be applying for a safe access zone.
The Sputnik reached out to Brantford General Hospital to acquire information regarding their stance on safe access zones and their intentions regarding the new legislation but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.