History in the making as cross party and civil society stakeholders join forces to support Safe Access Zone Bill before Seanad this week
On Thursday, April 7th, the Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill 2021 will go before the Seanad for Report and Final Stage. The Bill, drafted by Together for Safety a national organisation campaigning for Safe Access Zone Legislation, has received cross-party support from Senators and TDs from all parties and none, and has been endorsed by numerous civil society organisations.
This is the only Bill relating to Safe Access Zones currently being worked on as at present the Government has no Bill of its own and outlined in March that they still do not have any timeline for their Bill. In contrast, Together for Safety has a Bill that has been drafted by legal, criminal, and constitutional law experts, reviewed by unions, medical professional bodies, and human rights organisations. Law lecturer and expert in Constitutional Law, Dr Jennifer Kavanagh, who is a member of the Together for Safety legal team said, “This Bill does not prevent protest, it just creates space for privacy that’s free from harassment. Protest is an essential democratic right but as with any right it is proportional, and this Bill seeks to balance these rights.”
Recently Together for Safety provided evidence that the HSE knew from the launch of the abortion legislation that anti-choice protests and activities would cause significant gaps in service provision and had flagged this with the Gardaí and the Department of Health as early as January 2019. Dr Kavanagh said “The fact that this is clearly an active issue for those seeking to use termination services or anyone seeking to avail of medical services where terminations are available shows the need for such legislation to be passed without delay.”
The public gallery will be filled on Thursday with ‘repealers’ from groups across the country who want to take the opportunity, in the wake of last Friday’s Repeal Review deadline, to remind Minister Donnelly and the Department of Health that the 66.4% of us that voted YES in 2018 and have not forgotten what we fought for and what we were promised. Together for Safety have also arranged a photocall for 12.30pm on Thursday (April 7th) outside Leinster House (Kildare St Entrance) before the Bill is heard and are calling on everyone who wants to see the end to the harassment of people accessing medical care to join them for the photocall and to contact their local elected representatives to ask that Safe Access Zones be implemented immediately.