In the Seanad today, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan raised the urgent need to legislate for safe access zones for hospitals to protect women accessing healthcare.
Senator Gavan said:
“Protests by anti-choice campaigners are happening across the state outside maternity hospitals where women are accessing healthcare. Every single day over Lent there were protests outside the maternity hospital in Limerick. People should not have to access healthcare like this. Women should not have to experience protests as they enter or exit hospitals especially at such a vulnerable and sensitive time.
“Safe access zones have been established in many countries such as Australia and Canada. Current legislation here simply is not sufficient to protect people. We need specific legal protections in place to ensure these protests do not take place outside of hospitals.
“After the referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment, the then Minister Simon Harris promised legislation to establish safe access zones outside of hospitals. There is also a commitment given in the programme for government to establish exclusion zones around medical facilities. However after 3 years there is still no sign of this legislation from Government.
“Today in the Seanad, the Minister gave no commitment to take action. Worse, the government now appear to be walking away from their own programme pledge. Government now need to adhere to their own commitments, and put legislation in place so that we can protect those accessing hospital services.”