Health minister denies plan for exclusion zones law has been dropped
Health minister Stephen Donnelly has denied that plans to legislate for exclusion zones around abortion clinics have been dropped.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health had earlier suggested to the Irish Examiner that “existing public order legislation” could deal with protests outside healthcare services.
New legislation for exclusion zones was included in the coalition Programme for Government at the insistence of the Green Party.
In a statement on Saturday night, Mr Donnelly said: “As minister for health, I am fully committed to the introduction of legislation on safe access zones around our healthcare facilities. This commitment is in the Programme for Government.
“It was originally intended to provide for safe access to termination of pregnancy services in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018. However, a number of legal issues were identified which necessitated further consideration.
“Officials in the Department of Health continue to work with me to ensure safe access around medical facilities.”
He added: “I have also been engaging with a range of stakeholders and civil society groups in relation to the review of the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act which is being finalised with a view to it starting in the coming weeks.
“A priority for me as minister for health is women’s healthcare and the provision of safe services for all women.”
Neasa Hourigan, health spokesperson for the Green Party, said: “The Green Party will continue to work closely with our Government colleagues to establish a timeline for ensuring that legislation for safe access zones is progressed, along with the upcoming review of the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act, and broader Programme for Government commitments on reproductive and maternal healthcare.”