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27th Jul 2022

Anti-abortion protestors to be fined under new legislation

Kat O'Connor

Anti-abortion protestors could face jail time.

Cabinet is set to approve ‘Safe Access Zones’ around healthcare settings that provide abortions.

This includes hospitals and GP practices, as well as family planning clinics.

This morning, Minister Stephen Donnelly will seek approval to introduce the legislation.

It is likely to come into effect by the end of the year.

A 100m buffer zone would be introduced outside healthcare settings.

The safety zones will prevent protestors from deterring people from accessing abortion.

The buffer zone would prevent protestors from influencing and harassing people seeking abortion services.

This includes silent protests and people holding signs outside abortion clinics.

Patients who do encounter protestors will be able to report them to Gardaí.

Protestors could face a combination of both jail time and fines.

Donnelly will also seek pre-legislative scrutiny of the bill as quickly as possible.

There have been calls for safe-access zones since the Irish abortion referendum in 2018.

Together for Yes group has been campaigning for safe-access zones for years. They welcomed the “good news” this morning.

The group believes everyone should have a right to access abortion services “in dignity, privacy, and safety”.

“People should have the right to go to work without having to worry about passing pickets.

They also shouldn’t have to “put up with harassment or intimidating behaviour while doing their job.”

1 in 7 women have encountered anti-abortion protestors outside healthcare settings.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland previously called for a “zero tolerance” approach to harassment or intimidation outside healthcare facilities.

“The urgent passage of this legislation will protect both women and their doctors.”