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Nova Scotia passes bubble zone law

Intimidation and protests outside abortion service providers no longer allowed in the province

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Although access to reproductive-health care, specifically abortion, is a hard-fought right protected by the Canada Health Act, we know that there continues to be barriers to that access.

Bubble zone laws remove one barrier by prohibiting protest and harassment in the areas immediately surrounding hospitals, clinics and other facilities that provide abortions and reproductive services. I was proud to introduce the Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Act in the legislature last week to create bubble zones here in Nova Scotia.

In my own life, the issue of reproductive health is close to home. 

My grandmother escaped the Holocaust without most of her family. She came to New York City, alone, at 16. She taught herself English, found a job and eventually fell in love with and married my grandfather. Immediately after the Second World War, they moved back to Paris for work.

My grandmother often talked about those years as the worst of her life. Not the years in the war but the years after the war, living in a country, hit hard by the war, that she had so recently escaped. 

In those years she became pregnant. She said that although she thought about it until the end of her life, the decision that she made at that time to get an abortion was one she never regretted. She said that, at that time in her life, she was so emotionally incapable of being a parent that she couldn't possibly have given birth to a child. 

We talked about this when I was a teenager. I am so grateful I had a family with whom I could have these conversations. 

My mother, who was home for most of her children's lives, later served on the board of the Halifax Sexual Health Centre, then called the Metro Planned Parenthood Clinic, for many years, including years as chair of the board.

At the time it wasn't clear to me why that was where she volunteered her time. She just said, "Claudia, it is absolutely important that women can access health care and that they can access it without any intimidation and on their own terms." 

At that time, that clinic was where many women, including myself as a teenager, went for health care. It was still taboo to talk about things like birth control, to talk about things like abortion or any other reproductive services. As a young woman, especially if you had a male doctor, these were conversations you didn't want to have.

I'm so glad to have had this connection to that organization because through the years so many of my friends and family have accessed services there.

I don't tell these stories to point out anything special about my life, but rather to say that if this is my situation, how many other women, how many other men, how many other people in Nova Scotia also, maybe even unknowingly, share this connection to and legacy around access to reproductive-health care?

So, it was very meaningful to stand on the floor of the House of Assembly and speak to the forward movement of a bill that will help people accessing reproductive health care to not face intimidation, to not face the fear that I and my grandmother and my family and friends felt. 

This bill would not have been possible without the consistent and ongoing work of feminists to draw attention to the barriers that persist in accessing reproductive-health care, including abortion. 

Anyone requiring information about abortion services in Nova Scotia can call the self-referral phone line at 1-833-352-0719 to make an appointment or just ask questions. 

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