Anti-abortion protesters could face fines or jail for harassment outside clinics
Anti-abortion protesters could be fined or jailed for harassing women outside hospitals and clinics, under a proposed law, The Times reports.
Paul Gavan, the Sinn Féin senator, introduced the safe access zones bill in the Seanad yesterday. It would mandate a 100m buffer zone around relevant premises. Those who harass women within the buffer zone would be fined up to €3,000 or imprisoned for up to six months.
It would also be illegal under the law to seek to influence a person’s decision to access abortion services or hold signs inside of the exclusion zone.
Mr Gavan said the Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill 2021 was meant to stop “distressing and intimidatory” anti-abortion protests from occurring.
“Every week there are gatherings outside maternity hospitals by anti-choice protesters,” he said. “There are people monitoring, marching, praying and watching women and pregnant people going in and out of maternity hospitals. Every day there are protesters outside the maternity hospital in my home city of Limerick.
“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.”