Ban on anti-abortion protests near healthcare providers to become law

Ban on anti-abortion protests near healthcare providers to become law

Legislation banning anti-abortion protests within 100 metres of healthcare providers has been approved by the Oireachtas.

The Health (Termination of Pregnancy) (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2023 will create ‘safe access zones’ of 100 metres from an entrance or exit to a premises where obstetricians/gynaecologists and general practitioners provide services.

This includes consulting rooms, family planning clinics and women’s health clinics, as well as hospitals that provide acute inpatient services within the meaning of section 51 of the Health Act 1970.

Within those zones, certain conduct aimed at impeding access or influencing decisions in relation to termination of pregnancy services will be prohibited.

Similar legislation was enacted in Northern Ireland last year, having survived a legal challenge on human rights grounds.

Health minister Stephen Donnelly said: “The fundamental premise of this bill is about respect. It is about dignity. It is about ensuring that people can access healthcare services and feel safe and not be intimidated.

“It aims to ensure that our friends, colleagues, and family members are treated with consideration and empathy at a time when they need care.

“I have listened to women, to families, to health care professionals who unequivocally expressed their support for this bill.

“I am pleased that we have reached this milestone. I would like to thank all those involved in getting to this stage — members of Dáil and Seanad Éireann for their contributions to the debates and also colleagues in the HSE, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice, An Garda Siochána and officials in my Department for their input.

“The bill will now be referred to the president for signature and I look forward to enacting it as soon as possible.”

Share icon
Share this article: