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Labour threatens to introduce own legislation on safe zones for abortion services

The Labour Party says it will introduce its own legislation on so-called safe zones for abortion ...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.08 7 Aug 2021


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Labour threatens to introduce...

Labour threatens to introduce own legislation on safe zones for abortion services

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.08 7 Aug 2021


Share this article


The Labour Party says it will introduce its own legislation on so-called safe zones for abortion services if the Government fails to do so.

It comes as a number of legal issues have been identified in relation to the introduction of the measures.

While the Irish Examiner reports the Government has scrapped the laws completely.

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says he is "fully committed" to the introduction of legislation on safe access zones around healthcare facilities.

A commitment to this is in the Programme for Government.

They were originally intended to be introduced as part of the the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.

But Minister Donnelly says in statement "a number of legal issues were identified which necessitated further consideration."

Clarification of what these issues are is not alluded to.

He adds: "Officials in the Department of Health continue to work with me to ensure safe access around medical facilities.

"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."

'Long promised'

Opposition reaction has been swift, with Labour threatening to introduce its own legislation if the Government does not move quickly.

Labour Senator Annie Hoey is calling on Minister Donnelly to reverse his decision.

She says: "It is deeply worrying to read that the Government is rowing back on the firm commitment to provide access to safe abortion services in this country.

"This has been long promised and was a key commitment in the Programme for Government.

"This commitment must be implemented, not reversed, as soon as possible to prevent increased distress for women experiencing crisis pregnancy who seek to access legal services.

"Protests outside hospitals and clinics are intimidating for all those seeking to access medical services, for any visitors and for staff seeking access to work.

"These protests may have the effect of obstructing access to services for pregnant people, many of whom may be in crisis situations."

Senator Hoey adds if Government does not fulfil its commitment, she will publish legislation to address this issue in September.

"Minister Donnelly needs to prioritise this legislation when the Oireachtas returns. If he decides not to, the Labour Party will."

Green Party spokesperson for health, Neasa Hourigan, is calling for a 'a clear timeline' for the legislation.

She says: "The inclusion of safe access zones was one of the most important commitments in the Programme for Government and one that the Green Party fought hard for.

"Access to abortion services and the right to do so in an equitable and safe way is something the people of Ireland campaigned long and hard for and the Green Party is determined to see this aspect of the coalition's commitments fulfilled.

"Though the confusion this morning is unfortunate it is crucial for the minister to set out a clear timeline for the completion of that legislation.

"The creation of safe access zones sits alongside the independent review of law around reproductive health care services that will begin by the end of this year."

Main image: Health Minister Stephen Donnelly talks to the media while arriving at Dublin Castle for a Cabinet meeting. Picture by: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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Abortion Services Healthcare Facilities Labour Legislation Neasa Hourigan Safe Access Zones Senator Annie Hoey Stephen Donnelly

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