by Steven Ertelt
July 19, 2006
Regina, Canada (LifeNews.com) — A Canadian court has refused to hear an appeal by a pro-life advocate who lost his nursing license last year after protesting at local abortion businesses. Bill Whatcott lost is nursing license in January 2005 when he was found guilty of unprofessional conduct due to the pro-life protests.
Whatcott had demonstrated in front of Planned Parenthood abortion centers in 2002 and 2003 and was accused of intimidating staff and patients there.
In their decision, a discipline committee of the Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN) found the former Regina-based nurse guilty of unprofessional conduct and suspended Whatcott’s license for 45 days.
The organization also made him pay a $15,000 fine to cover the group’s legal and administrative costs.
At a hearing in front of Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Ron Barclay, SALPN said that picketing isn’t wrong but Whatcott should have been disciplined because of the alleged intimidation.
According to the Regina Leader-Post newspaper, SALPN officials also said Whatcott made incorrect statements about Planned Parenthood Regina.
Whatcott responded that he was not on the job at the time of the protests and that he has a free speech right to express his pro-life views and to do so at the abortion center.
However, Judge Barclay said Whatcott was in violation of SALPN bylaws governing actions by nursing staff, the Leader-Post reported.
"Even though the appellant was off duty while these acts occurred, his actions caused harm to the patients of the Planned Parenthood center which provides health services to the community," Barclay wrote in his decision. "In other words, the activities or conduct of the appellant negatively impacted the health system as it relates to the Planned Parenthood center."
He also said Whatcott was not entitled to make "defamatory" statements against Planned Parenthood.
The Leader Post also reported that Barclay found that a section of the Licensed Practical Nurses Act of 2000 allows limitations on nurses’ freedom of expression.
The decision upholds the penalties SALPN slapped on Whatcott originally.