Advance of Safe Access Bill 'welcome' - Senator Paul Gavan
Sinn Fein Senator Paul Gavan has welcomed the advance of the Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy bill through Committee stage of the Seanad.
The Bill would establish Safe Access Zones around all family planning clinics, maternity hospitals and health care facilities in Ireland that provide or give information on abortion.
Within these zones anti-choice protesting, intimidating behaviour and communication about abortion would be strictly and legally prohibited.
The Bill was drafted by Together For Safety, a national campaign group based in Limerick, and some of their activists attended the debate which saw a number of amendments passed to strengthen the Bill.
Speaking after the debate Senator Gavan said:
“I welcome the advance of this Bill to Report and Final Stage in the Seanad, and the broad cross party support for this initiative.
"Huge credit must go to the Together For Safety organisation for their tireless campaigning on this issue.
"I am asking that the Minister for Health work with us to ensure that this Bill is further strengthened and completes its passage through the Seanad in the coming weeks.
“I remain concerned that 4 years after Safe Access legislation was first promised there still seems to be a marked reluctance on the part of the Department of Health to engage with this very important issue.
"Last November the Minister promised to bring in his own legislation on this issue in the Spring term.
"Today he indicated that this would now not be happening and instead spoke of commencing a new all-party initiative. This is simply not good enough.
“We must bring an end to people being subject to intimidation, harassment and the subtle but deliberate chill effect that anti-choice protesters are bringing to hospitals, family planning and GP settings across the State.
"The Minister needs to insist that his department get behind this Safe Access Zones Bill and deliver protections that were promised in the programme for government.”