On Wednesday November 10th at 7:15pm Safe Access Zone Legislation was voted on and passed in the Seanad.
This is the Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill 2021 that was drafted by the Together for Safety legal team.
Together for Safety statement:
On November 10th, a Private Members Bill submitted by Limerick based campaign group Together for Safety passed the second stage in the Seanad and got one step closer to becoming law. The Bill aims to bring in legislation to prevent anti-abortion protests and activities outside health centres.
The core aim of the draft legislation is to find a way to keep people safe as they access their health care. The Together for Safety Bill seeks to balance the competing rights of protecting people’s right to protest on the one hand and also their right to access their medical appointments in privacy, in dignity, and in safety. Last Wednesday night in the Seanad the bill was debated and was brought successfully through to stage 3, unopposed.
“We want to see an immediate stop to the kinds of upsetting protests and activities that we see daily around the country as people attend medical appointments” said Yvie Murphy, co-convenor of Together for Safety. “Our draft Bill, The Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill 2021, will create a 100 meter area – a Safe Access Zone – around health centres and anywhere women and pregnant people are legally entitled to access abortion care, in which no communication about abortion can take place”
“Our aim from the start has been to build cross party political support while also engaging and consulting with civil society groups impacted by the protests” said Karen Sugrue, co-convenor of Together for Safety.
The convenors said they have been absolutely overwhelmed with the support their bill has received. “We are a group of women who started this campaign because we found the protests so upsetting, but we could not have got to this point on our own. We have been guided and helped through this process by fantastic cross party political representatives from almost every political party in the country. Constitutional and criminal law experts have volunteered their time and expertise. Groups such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Amnesty, Doctors for Choice, Abortion Rights Campaign, the Women’s Council and trade unions have worked tirelessly with us so that our Bill protects everyone’s rights” said Ms Sugrue. “The full list of our fantastic supporters can be found on our website.”
This promise to act on Safe Access Zones is in the Programme for Government in 2020, with the commitment to “establish exclusion zones around medical facilities”.
“No matter who you are, where you are from, what party you support, or what you voted in 2018, a huge majority of people in Ireland feel that we should all be able to access medical appointments without being harassed or passing protestors” continued Ms. Murphy. “Our Bill ensures everyone’s safety and we are asking everyone to contact their elected representatives to ask them to support this Bill.”
Wed Nov 10 19.15 Private Members’ Business: Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill 2021 – Second Stage (Senators Paul Gavan, Frances Black, Lynn Boylan, Eileen Flynn, Alice-Mary Higgins, Annie Hoey, Erin McGreehan, Rebecca Moynihan, David Norris, Niall O’Donnghaile, Pauline O’Reilly, Lynn Ruane, Marie Sherlock, Mark Wall, Fintan Warfield)