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Alliance Files Factum in Abortion Bubble Zone Case

09/18/2006

Press Release:

Ottawa — The Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance (CRFA), comprised of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), the Catholic Civil Rights League and the Christian Legal Fellowship, has filed its factum in the Spratt case currently before the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

The case concerns a constitutional challenge to the Access to Abortion Services Act, which prohibits “sidewalk interference” and “protest” in a specified access zone around abortion clinics. Donald David Spratt protested in one of these bubble zones by carrying a nine-foot cross with a sign saying “You Shall Not Murder” and spoke about God’s forgiveness and repentance for sins.

Justice Howard, of the B.C. Provincial Court ruled that Spratt engaged in “sidewalk interference.” She decided that because the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in the R. v. Lewis case that the law is constitutional, she was bound by this decision and could not find the law unconstitutional.

The CRFA argues that the definitions of “protest” and “sidewalk interference” are overly broad and infringe freedom of expression. While the CRFA agrees that besetting, intimidation, physical interference, graphic recording, threatening and harassment are appropriately prohibited by other provisions of the Act, it argues that prohibiting peaceful leafleting and innocuous protest should not be prohibited.

“Those who feel compelled by their religious beliefs to pray or offer counselling outside abortion clinics should not be made criminals,” said Janet Epp Buckingham, the EFC’s director, law and public policy.

The EFC’s President Bruce J. Clemenger said, “Freedom of expression is one of our most cherished human rights. The government must show a compelling reason why it should be restricted.” 

The case has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The factum is available on the EFC website. ************http://www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/pdf/Spratt%20factum.pdf*************

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Gail Reid
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905-479-5885, ext. 227
Cell: 647-227-3464

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