Cork-based GP welcomes Cabinet approval for plans to legislate for safe access zones 

Dr Mary Favier, who is also a member of the Southern Task-Force On Abortion and Reproductive Topics (START) group, said the forthcoming legislation is much-needed.
Cork-based GP welcomes Cabinet approval for plans to legislate for safe access zones 

Dr Mary Favier, who is also a member of the Southern Task-Force On Abortion and Reproductive Topics (START) group, said the forthcoming legislation is much-needed. Picture: Denis Minihane.

A CORK-BASED GP and founding member of Doctors For Choice Ireland, an alliance of independent medical professionals and students advocating for comprehensive reproductive health services in Ireland, has welcomed Cabinet approval for plans to legislate for safe access zones around facilities that provide abortion services.

Dr Mary Favier, who is also a member of the Southern Task-Force On Abortion and Reproductive Topics (START) group, said the forthcoming legislation is much-needed.

“It is not acceptable that patients, both those seeking abortion care and not, should have to tolerate protesters and potential abuse. Neither should practice staff who have been incredibly supportive of the abortion service in general practice.

“Irish society voted for a safe accessible service. This legislation will help ensure it can be provided both safely and with appropriate protections,” she said.

The heads of the Bill, a general scheme of a Bill before it is finalised, designate specified healthcare premises and 100 metres surrounding their perimeter as safe access zones.

It proposes to designate safe access zones around any site that can provide termination of pregnancy services, not just those that do.

“Nobody should be harassed, insulted, intimidated or interfered with in any way, or have their decision to access lawfully available healthcare services subject to attempted unsolicited influence by strangers,” Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said.

Pictured is Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking to the media outside Dublin Castle ahead of the last scheduled Cabinet meeting of the summer. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Pictured is Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking to the media outside Dublin Castle ahead of the last scheduled Cabinet meeting of the summer. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

“The introduction of safe access zones will protect the freedom to access termination of services without impediment and the privacy and dignity of women accessing health services, as well as the service providers, and their staff in the course of their duties and responsibilities,” he continued.

Following the Government’s decision to approve the heads of bill, a formal Bill will be drafted by the Office of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Department of Health.

Mr Donnelly said his intention is to see the legislation enshrined in law by the end of the year. A range of penalties will be available to the courts where a person is convicted of an offence under the proposed legislation ranging from fines to imprisonment for more serious offences.

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