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Alberta Anti-Choice Bill Nixed.

Jason Kenney's United Conservatives may occupy a majority of the seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, but those united for reproductive choice in the province aren't taking attacks on women's rights sitting down.

In November, United Conservative Party MP Dan Williams lost his bid to enact a law that pro-choice activists say would have permitted heath care professionals with "conscientious beliefs" to stand in the way of a woman's right to receive reproductive health services.

Doctors and Alberta pro-choice activists spoke out loudly against the bill. The Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) helped block an attempt to pass a law that would have permitted doctors and other health care workers to not only refuse to provide health services but would have exempted them from being required to provide referrals to patients.

Bill 207, the Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, passed first reading in the Legislative Assembly. At the committee discussion stage, LEAF argued in a written submission that Bill 207 was an unjustifiable infringement of Charter rights and should not proceed from the committee.

The bill would have allowed health professionals to refuse to provide health care services if they held "conscientious beliefs" opposed to such services. LEAF argued that the bill would have interfered with Albertans' right to liberty and security, protected by Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The bill would also have prohibited those denied access to health care services from issuing complaints of discrimination. Bill 207 was rejected on November 22 by an all-party committee of the legislature. "It's bittersweet because we really shouldn't be having this conversation in 2019," said Janis Irwin, the Alberta NDP Critic for Women and LGBTQissues.

by PENNI MITCHELL

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Author:Mitchell, Penni
Publication:Herizons
Geographic Code:1CALB
Date:Jan 1, 2020
Words:286
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