Senator Paul Gavan welcomes second stage passage of Safe Access Zones Bill
Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has welcomed the passing of legislation at second stage of the Seanad this evening to create safe access zones around healthcare settings which provide abortion services.
The Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill has been produced by Together For Safety, a national campaign group who have been calling for implementation of safe access zones for over a year.
Speaking after the legislation had passed second stage this evening, Limerick-based Senator Gavan said:
“This is a significant day and I want to thank all Senators who spoke in favour of this Bill and the urgent need to establish safe access zones around our maternity hospitals and family planning centres.
"All credit for this Bill belongs to Together for Safety, a national campaign group for Safe Access Zones that I have had the privilege to work with for the last number of years.
“Every week, there are gatherings outside maternity hospitals by anti-choice protestors. The previous Government promised safe access zone legislation to ensure that these protests would not take place outside those hospitals. Three years on we are still waiting.
“There are people monitoring, marching, praying and watching women and pregnant people going in and out of maternity hospitals.
“People have fundamental rights to privacy and dignity, especially so when they are visiting a hospital. 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. People should not have to access healthcare like this.
“The Bill now moves to Committee stage and I would urge the Minister and his Department to engage with the cross-party alliance that has got behind this Bill, and the activists from Together For Safety.
“Whatever concerns the Minister has around this Bill can be addressed at Committee stages in both the Seanad and the Dáil. It’s far better to engage and work with the good bill that we have now in the Seanad than postpone action with talk of a different Bill which no-one has had any sight of yet. Women and pregnant people have already been left waiting far too long.
“I would appeal to the Minister to put party politics to one side on this issue and get behind this Bill to ensure a swift passage through this chamber.”