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Master of the National Maternity Hospital responds to planned pro-life protests

The Master of the National Maternity Hospital says he feels it is his absolute responsibility to protect patients and staff from harassment.

Prof Shane Higgins was responding to the news that a pro-life group is planning to hold a 40-day peaceful protest outside Holles Street from next Wednesday.

The group says that it will base itself across the road from the hospital from 7am to 7pm from September 25 to November 6.

"This isn't an abortion clinic, this is a maternity hospital and the vast, vast majority of patients who are accessing the hospital from one day to the next are giving birth, having joyful occasions," said Professor Higgins of the Holles Street hospital.

To balance that, there are some patients who are experiencing quite significant tragedy in the hospital, who have lost a baby or are experiencing a miscarriage.

"As the Master of the National Maternity Hospital it is my absolute responsibility to protect staff and patients," Prof Higgins added.

Update: Meanwhile, the Pro-Life Campaign have criticised Health Minister Simon Harris and maintained their right to protest.

“The Pro-Life Campaign remains resolutely determined to protect the rights of citizens to engage in peaceful and proportionate witness to the value of unborn human life and the presentation of alternatives to abortion to any woman who may be considering it," a spokesperson said.

"It has always been our position, however, that this can and should be done while demonstrating a clear sensitivity to the circumstances which some women may find themselves in."

The fact that the Minister’s preferred description has moved from ‘Exclusion Zones’ to ‘Safe Access Zones’ also serves to highlight the fact that an attempt is being made to present the proposed legislation in more palatable language while the substance remains essentially the same.