Exclusion Zones

ACTION ALERT: Dáil second stage vote TONIGHT on exclusion zones. Contact your TD today!

The Dáil is due to vote this evening (27th September) on the so-called ‘Safe Access Zones’ Bill, which would heavily discriminate against pro-life citizens.

There must be strong pro-life opposition to this draconian legislation. Below you will find a letter sent to all TDs by the Pro Life Campaign, which highlights some key reasons why they should vote against this legislation.

Please get in touch with your local TDs today – by email or phone – and ask them to vote against this Bill tonight. Even if your email is just a one line request asking them to vote NO, it’s important to send it.

You can find the TDs from your constituency here

Letter to TDs from Pro Life Campaign in advance of vote

Dear Deputy,

As you are aware, a vote will be held on the Abortion Exclusion Zones Bill tonight Wednesday, 27th September. The Pro Life Campaign has strongly argued against this Bill which is unnecessary, draconian, and discriminatory. In our submission to the Joint Health Committee last year (attached), we outlined the case against exclusion zones from several angles, which are summarised briefly below.

The Bill before the House would create sprawling exclusion zones of 100-metres around every GP clinic in the country, not just hospitals. Táilte (formerly the OSI) has been commissioned to try and get a handle on just how much territory this would actually cover.

In other countries which have specific-purpose abortion clinics (e.g. MSI or BPAS in England), there is at least a logic behind setting up exclusion zones which would, by nature, be limited in number. However, the government is proposing to blot out immense amounts of public space where any and all pro-life activity would be criminalised. This would impact on events like the annual March for Life, which unwittingly passes by streets which would now be designated within 100-metre zones due to the nearby presence of a GP clinic, “family planning centre”, or hospital.

Exclusion zones do not just prohibit organised ‘protests’ but also criminalise any action which might be seen as an attempt to ‘influence’ a woman’s decision to have an abortion. This is a sweeping category which covers many forms of constitutionally protected peaceful expression.

This law would undermine citizens’ fundamental rights, particularly the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. People have been arrested in England merely for silently praying and have been subjected to questions like “what is the nature of your prayer?” by police officers. This is sinisterly authoritarian.

Exclusion Zones are inherently discriminatory. This law would criminalise a person from standing in the vicinity of a zone with optional pro-life leaflets which contain information on alternatives to abortion which members of the public may wish to avail of. By contrast, the same person would be well within their legal right to hand out a leaflet on any other issue. This law actively discriminates against one particular ethical worldview.

This law is unnecessary and has largely been manufactured as an issue by abortion activists. UL Hospitals Group in Limerick stated in December 2021 it had no record of complaints from patients about protestors in the wake of allegations made by an abortion lobbying group. In mid-September 2023, the CUMH in Cork stated it had received no complaints from patients or staff about protests. It went on to acknowledge that protests are very infrequent and average between 2-4 people. 2-4 people expressing their views on abortion hardly meet quorum for a protest and is certainly not a cause for special legislation which curbs civil liberties.

There is now more of a debate on how to balance the right to protest with other people’s rights in light of the condemnable events outside Leinster House on 20th September. However, there has never been any similar equivalent with alleged pro-life ‘protests’. The campaign for Exclusion Zones is rooted in an attempt to smear pro-life citizens, who make up 33% of the electorate.

In just 4.5 years, there have been over 34,000 abortions in Ireland. This shocking figure tells us there is very little problem with access. Rather the problem is with women in unplanned pregnancies not being provided with adequate supports and options. Because the state is failing to meet the needs of these women, the burden often falls on earnest and committed private citizens. Exclusion Zones would forever remove the possibility of women ever receiving an optional offer of help or support at these sprawling locations at a time when they may need it most. This was the experience of Alina Dulgheriu outside an abortion clinic in London, who availed of pro-life support and decided to continue her pregnancy and give birth to her daughter.

The case in favour of Exclusion Zones is emotional and tries to pick out pro-life citizens as ‘easy targets’. However, at least a third of the electorate voted to continue to protect the unborn child, and their views should not be unjustly discriminated against in law or unfairly caricatured in the media.

I would ask that you please consider the points raised in this letter. Your vote against the discriminatory “Safe Access Zones” Bill tonight would be greatly appreciated by hundreds of thousands of people who too often feel completely unrepresented and overlooked.

Yours sincerely,
Eilís Mulroy
Pro Life Campaign
24 Mount Street Upper,
Dublin 2
01 662 9275

Please find a link to our Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health here

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