Government declines to rule out prosecution of conscientious objectors

News Release

Protection of Conscience Project

A spokesperson for the British Columbia Ministry of Health has declined to provide assurance that health care workers who object to abortion will not be prosecuted under the Access to Abortion Services Act.

The Act could be used to prosecute health care workers in “bubble zones” who decline to participate in abortion, or express disapproval of abortion in meetings or private conversations. It could also be used against clergy or counsellors providing pastoral care in “bubble zones” who provide information about abortion, or express disapproval of abortion.

The potential for conflict was first brought to the attention of the Minister of Health in 1995. It was raised again in correspondence this year with the Okanagan Similkameen Health Region and the Minister of Heath, as a result of discussion about the imposition of  a “bubble zone” at Kelowna General Hospital.

The Minister of Health refused to provide written assurance that the Act would not be applied against conscientious objectors, and refused to amend the Act. The Okanagan  Similkameen Health Region declined to consider the question, since a “bubble zone” had not been imposed on the Kelowna General Hospital.

A report on the subject is available on the Protection of Conscience Project website (Report 2000-01)

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