Alberta judge upholds community’s right to refuse anti-abortion ad

A file photo of the scales of justice is shown. File Photo

An abortion rights group is hailing a court ruling that says a city in northwest Alberta has the legal right to refuse to run a graphic anti-abortion ad on its transit buses.

The ad proposed by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) included pictures of fetuses and the words “Abortion kills children. End the killing.”

Justice C. S. Anderson of Court of Queen’s Bench ruled against CCBR’s application to quash the decision by the City of Grande Prairie, Alta.

Anderson says the city’s decision was reasonable because the ad would have likely caused psychological harm to women who have had an abortion or are considering one.

Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada says the ruling should prompt other communities to reject such ads.

The judge also wrote that the ad would have caused fear and confusion among children.

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“They may not be familiar with the word abortion, but they can read and understand that “something” kills children,” Anderson said in a written ruling issued on Dec. 22.

“Expression of this kind may lead to emotional responses from the various people who make use of public transit and other users of the road, creating a hostile and uncomfortable environment.”

CCBR argued that the city’s decision infringed on its right to freedom of expression under the charter.

Last year the group said it would take the City of Peterborough, Ont., to court if it would not to allow the anti-abortion ad to be posted on city buses.

The city later agreed to run the ad, but has not yet done so, Arthur said Tuesday.

“We urge the City of Peterborough to act now to safeguard the rights and safety of its citizens by taking whatever legal means possible to ensure this ad does not appear,” she said.

“Further, we ask that the city issue a public statement within the next month to inform residents about the issue, and assure them that the ad has been rejected.”

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CCBR officials were not immediately available for comment.

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