Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has introduced legislation in the Seanad to create safe access zones around healthcare settings which provide abortion services.
The Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill has been produced by Together For Safety, a national campaign group who have been calling for implementation of safe access zones for over a year.
Speaking today as he introduced the legislation, Limerick-based Senator Gavan said:
“While Sinn Féin are very proud to be supporting this Bill, all credit for this Bill actually belongs to Together for Safety, a national campaign group for Safe Access Zones that I have had the privilege to work with for the last number of years.
“This is very much a cross party initiative and I want to acknowledge the strong support of the Labour Party who will be seconding this proposal this morning, and also the Civil Engagement Group who have been consistently to the fore in support for this issue. I also want to acknowledge the support of Senator O’Reilly from the Green Party, Senator McGreehan from Fianna Fail and the Father of the House Senator Norris all of whom have also co-signed this Bill.
“Every week, there are gatherings outside maternity hospitals by anti-choice protestors. The previous Government promised safe access zone legislation to ensure that these protests would not take place outside those hospitals.
“There are people monitoring, marching, praying and watching women and pregnant people going in and out of maternity hospitals.
“Every day there are protestors outside the maternity hospital in my home city of Limerick.
“I hope the Leader will agree with me that people have fundamental rights to privacy and dignity, especially so when they are visiting a hospital. I ask colleagues to think about the impact of these protestors on people as they access healthcare across the State.
“These protests, which are happening outside many hospitals throughout the State, are attempting to intimidate and cause upset. They are invading women and pregnant people’s privacy and bodily autonomy at a profoundly vulnerable and sensitive time. People should not have to access healthcare like this.
“We have been promised legislation for over three years. It was supposed to be passed in 2019 by Simon Harris. It wasn’t. It is in the spring, summer and autumn legislative schedule but no work has started and no change in its status in all that time.
“I would appeal to colleagues from all parties to get behind this Bill and ensure a swift passage through this chamber.
“Women and pregnant people have already been left waiting far too long.”