Safe Access Zones bill passes second stage at Seanad
Legislation to introduce safe access zones outside healthcare settings that provide abortions has now passed its second stage in the Seanad.
The Bill was drafted by Together For Safety, a campaign group calling for the implementation of these zones, and led by Senator Paul Gavan.
Safe access zones are fixed areas around health care facilities where anti-abortion protesting and any kind of intimidating behaviour or communication would be prohibited.
The campaign wants to create a 100-metre safe access zone around areas where abortion or contraceptive services are carried out.
The legislation was voted on in the Seanad on Wednesday night and successfully passed its second stage.
The #SafeAccessZonesNOW Bill has just passed Second Stage in the #Seanad
Thanks to @paul_gavan for leading, to @together_safety for their steadfast work and to all those who co-signed and supported the legislation tonight. @LNBDublin @fintanwarfield pic.twitter.com/eHDltORNUD
— Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile 🇮🇪🇵🇸 (@NiallSF) November 10, 2021
"The #SafeAccessZonesNOW Bill has just passed Second Stage in the #Seanad. Thanks to @paul_gavan for leading, to @together_safety for their steadfast work and to all those who co-signed and supported the legislation tonight," Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile wrote on Twitter.
Even though 67% of people voted in favour of repealing the eighth amendment back in May 2018, harassment and intimidation outside of health centres providing abortion is prevalent.
According to the campaign, "people from different anti-choice organisations and anti-choice individuals have been consistently present and protesting outside of maternity hospitals, family planning clinics and GPs surgeries all over the country".
Before a Bill can be enacted, it must be passed by both the Dáil and the Seanad and go through several stages in each House.
If successful, the Safe Access Zones Bill will allow women to safely attend an appointment to terminate a pregnancy without fear of being harassed.
Speaking on the drafted Bill last month, the campaign group said:
"We have been campaigning for the last year for the implementation of Safe Access Zones. We have submitted a private members bill to Seanad Eireann.
"Our bill will create a 100 metre safe access zone around anywhere where pregnant people may be attempting to access abortion.
"Our bill attempts to balance the right to protest with the right to healthcare and privacy. We have written to all senators and civil society groups to ensure that our bill is fair, robust, and fit for purpose."
Main Image Credit: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie