Responding to the passage of the ‘Safe Access Zones’ Bill in the Seanad today, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:

“This draconian legislation will do nothing to help women in unplanned pregnancies. Instead, it seeks to smear pro-life citizens and introduces sweeping measures which undermine everyone’s fundamental rights.

“Minister Stephen Donnelly has said that he has ‘listened to women, to families, to health care professionals who unequivocally expressed their support for this Bill’. It appears Mr Donnelly has only been talking to a very narrow section of the public, such as state-funded campaign groups like the National Women’s Council. Many people, including medical and legal professionals, have profound concerns about the impact of this draconian law on fundamental rights. However, Mr Donnelly has failed to engage with their concerns and instead appears to believe genuine fears about this law’s impact on freedom of expression can be papered over by just mouthing slogans.

“The Bill will criminalise any perceived attempt to influence one’s decision to have an abortion within a 100-metre zone of a premises where abortion could be provided; in essence this means every GP practice, maternity hospital, or family planning clinic in the country. This Bill is not simply about preventing ‘protests’, but will criminalise the possibility of a woman receiving an offer of help when she might need it most.

“The supposed threat of pro-life ‘protests’ in the vicinity of GP clinics or hospitals has been dramatically exaggerated. The UL Hospitals Group stated in December 2021 that it had ‘no record anti-abortion protests’ and had received no complaints from staff, patients, or visitors. People are being targeted for engaging in prayer, not for organising ‘protests’. The same people are not praying solely for the unborn child, but are also offering prayer intentions for the sick and healthcare workers.

“On Monday 6th May, the March for Life will pass through Dublin city centre. Thousands of people will join this annual event, reflecting the considerable pro-life movement that exists in Ireland. This Bill is a smear and a mischaracterisation of this considerable body of opinion.”

Note to Editor: 
Quote from statement of UL Hospitals Group: