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27/09/2021

"We need to follow suit here in Ireland": Kildare Senator calls for quicker establishment of safe access zones for abortion

A Senator from Kildare has called for the establishment of safe access zones at abortion clinics to be hastened.

On behalf of the Irish Women's Parliamentary Caucus, its Chair Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has directed her appeal to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Minister Donnelly recently said that insisted he is "fully committed" to legislating for safe access zones around clinics that provide abortion services, and later restated his 'commitment' after The Irish Examiner revealed that the Department of Health stated current public order legislation was adequate to police anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and GP practices.

Speaking on the need for safe access zones, Senator O’ Loughlin said, “We need to legislate for safe access zones at abortion clinics as a matter of urgency.”

"Peoples right to protest is of paramount importance, and I believe we need to support that, but there is a distinct difference between registering your protest to something and hiding behind your right to protest in order to intimidate people out of accessing healthcare."

She continued: "Safe access zones are needed to protect both the right to protest as well as peoples right to access healthcare."

The Fianna Fáil politician added that safe access zones are already used in other countries, including parts of Canada, Australia, and the US, and stressed that "we need to follow suit here in Ireland."

"I am concerned that protests at these clinics will deter people from exercising their right to healthcare, many of whom are in crisis pregnancy situations and do not need any extra pressure or stress."

She concluded: "As Chair of the Women’s caucus, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that people’s access to healthcare is protected."

Fiona O' Loughlin recently also made headlines when she hit out at a controversial Irish Mail on Sunday article criticising her dress sense, as well as the dress sense of other members of Fianna Fáil at last week's party outing in Cavan.

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