Sinn Féin Senator, Paul Gavan, speaking ahead of the Committee Stage of the Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2021 (Safe Zones) has called on all parties to continue their support for the Bill.
The Bill would establish Safe Access Zones around all family planning clinics, maternity hospitals and health care facilities in Ireland who provide or give information on abortion.
Within these zones anti-choice protesting, intimidating behaviour and/or communication about abortion would be strictly and legally prohibited.
Seanadóir Gavan said:
“I am very proud to facilitate the advance of this Bill, which has been carefully drafted by Together 4 Safety, a national campaign group based in Limerick.
“The committee stage of this Bill will be taken this week and we are proposing a small number of amendments to strengthen the Bill and address concerns highlighted by Minister Donnelly during Second Stage of the Bill last November.
“There has been wide cross party support for this Bill and I hope that continues this week.
“Minister Donnelly assured us last November that he would be introducing his own bill, but four years after it was first promised there is still no sign of a government Bill to establish Safe Access Zones.
“So, I ask for the Minister to actively engage with our amendments and to work with us to ensure this legislation is as robust as required.
“The wait for safe access zones for women and pregnant people has already been too long, but there is now an added urgency to the situation.
“Together for Safety have been approached by staff members working for University Limerick Hospital Group who have told them that they believe information on termination of pregnancy appointments is being given to anti-choice protesters as protests regularly take place at the exact day and time a termination of pregnancy is scheduled.
“This is an intolerable situation and that is why we need a swift passage for this Bill.
“Everyone and their partners should be able to access compassionate healthcare including abortion services in privacy and dignity.
“They should not have to endure distress, intimidation, subtle coercion and emotional abuse in order to fulfil that right.
“I again would like to commend the work that Together for Safety have put into this Bill and to the long list of supporters from all parties and none who are working to get this legislation passed.
“I am also delighted to learn that some of the Together for Safety Team will be travelling to Leinster House now that restrictions allow.
“I again continue to call on the Seanadórí from across the House, to continue to support this Bill and ensure it’s safe passage though committee stage.”