Canadian judge upholds anti-abortion ad ban on public buses over concerns on psychological harm

A Canadian judge has upheld a decision to ban anti-abortion ads on public buses in Grande Prairie, Alberta over concerns of the psychological harm it might do to women who previously terminated a pregnancy.

(REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni)An activist holds a rosary while ralling against abortion outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California September 29, 2015.

According to Judge C.S. Anderson, anti-abortion groups cannot post their ads on the city's public buses because of its possible effect on young people. The decision comes after the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform filed an application to quash the anti-abortion ad ban, The Canadian Press reports.

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"'They may not be familiar with the word abortion, but they can read and understand that 'something' kills children," said Judge Anderson in his ruling on Dec. 22 as he talked about the effect these ads might have on children who saw them. "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's proposed ads included photos of fetuses and the caption "Abortion kills children. End the killing." Anderson sided with the city's decision to ban anti-abortion ads on public buses because the posts could reportedly be psychologically detrimental to women who previously had an abortion or are thinking about getting one.

CCBR argued that the ban violated their right to freedom of expression. Pro-choice group Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, on the other hand, lauded the decision.

Meanwhile, the issue of gender-selective abortion has stirred concerns over political division in Canada. Last month, a Conservative leadership hopeful promised to include in his platform a pledge to act against sex-selective abortion, The Canadian Press said in a separate report.

In a campaign video, former Ontario Tory MP Pierre Lemieux vowed to work towards eliminating gender-selective abortion in Canada. He said terminating a pregnancy based on the unborn baby's gender is wrong.

Echoing Lemieux's call for an open and respectful debate on sex-selective abortion, his rival Brad Trost said the party voted to condemn the practice. He also challenged other candidates to take a stand on the issue instead of avoiding the topic.

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