Safety Guidelines for Media

Please Help Protect Abortion Providers in the Media

April 2002

The following are guidelines we have developed to help the media protect the safety and privacy of abortion providers (doctors and staff), as well as activists and patients, when covering any story related to the abortion issue. Abortion providers have been the victims of a concerted campaign of violence and harassment throughout North America, by a vocal minority of extremist anti-abortionists. Unfortunately, providers in British Columbia have also been targets, and as a result, they remain vigilant when it comes to protecting their safety and privacy.

  1. Please do not publish or broadcast information that would directly or indirectly reveal an abortion provider's residence, or which would enable someone to more easily stalk providers at their workplace or other location.
  2. Please do not ask for or publish specific information on abortion providers' security measures, since this may compromise the measures taken.
  3. Please do not publish or broadcast pictures of abortion providers (their faces) without their permission.
  4. Please respect the privacy wishes of abortion providers. Most doctors are unwilling to speak to the media, to protect their safety and to keep a low profile. Offers to preserve their anonymity may be appreciated by some.
  5. Please funnel all requests to speak to clinic doctors or staff through the Pro-Choice Action Network, which is the official media representative for all four of Vancouver's abortion clinics (Everywoman's Health Centre, Elizabeth Bagshaw Women's Clinic, C.A.R.E Program at BC Women's Hospital, and the Wiebe Medical Clinic.) Every effort will be made to locate a willing spokesperson in special circumstances.
  6. Please request permission from the Pro-Choice Action Network before going to an abortion clinic to shoot photos or footage. Clinics have concerns about invasion of privacy of staff and patients, and disturbance of neighbours. In addition, photographing into the bubble zone without permission is considered a violation of BC's Access to Abortion Services Act.
  7. Please exercise discretion and caution when using quotes or airing views from anti-abortion extremists, especially where such views advocate or encourage violence against abortion providers, or where quotes contain slander or gross misinformation.

Thank you! We appreciate your thoughtfulness.