Ontario will be implementing the ban on pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics beginning Feb. 1, 2018, the government confirmed in a letter last week.
Bill 163, or Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, was passed by Ontario lawmakers on Oct. 25, just three weeks after it was tabled by Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.
The measure would ban pro-life activities within 50 meters of Ontario's eight abortion facilities and the distance could be increased up to 150 meters.
According to Life Site News, the banned activities include advising a person to refrain from accessing abortion services, abortion-related protests, physically interfering with or intimidating persons accessing or providing abortion services, and taking photos or video of patients or providers.
In a letter dated Dec. 15, Naqvi informed groups that his ministry consulted on the legislation that it will come into force on Feb. 1, pending finalization of the regulations on its implementation.
The groups that were consulted by the ministry include the Campaign Life Coalition, which denounced the Liberals for a bill that violates Charter rights. During the one-day public hearings, the group delivered thousands of signed petitions objecting to the legislation.
Naqvi's letter noted that hospitals, health care centers, and pharmacies — which are now allowed to dispense the abortion pill — can apply for "bubble zones" up to 150 meters.
"If a request for a safe access zone around a facility is granted, the location and size of the zone will be listed in a regulation under the Act. Information regarding how to submit requests for safe access zones to my ministry will be available on the government's website on February 1, 2018," Naqvi wrote.
Apart from the abortion facilities, the measure also automatically establishes safe zones of 150 meters outside the homes of "protected service providers," defined as "all clinic staff and doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who provide abortion services."
Those who are found to be in violation of the new law could be fined up to $5,000 and be sentenced up to six months in jail. The penalties will be doubled for the second and subsequent convictions.
Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes said that the new measure will not stop pro-life advocates from reaching out to pregnant women who are facing difficult decisions.
"If the government and the abortion industry think this is going to deter us, they have no idea," Hughes told Life Site News.
Earlier this month, 43-year-old Canadian pro-life advocate Mary Wagner was arrested and jailed for setting foot on the premises of Women's Care Clinic in Ontario.
She went to the clinic on Dec. 8 carrying roses and a contact card with the words "You can keep you baby. Love will find a way," as well as information about the religious group, "Sisters of Life."
Wagner, who had been arrested in December 2016 for expressing her pro-life message, had been charged with one count of mischief and two counts of breaching probation. She had not been charged under Bill 163, as the government had not finalized the implementation of the law.