Commenting on the news that the Government intends to bring forward a bill to impose exclusion zones outside abortion facilities, Eilís Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign said:
“The Government’s plan to introduce exclusion zones outside abortion facilities sets a very dangerous precedent for denying freedom of expression and the right to peacefully assemble in public areas. The proposal being put forward is a wholly disproportionate response to the risk that a tiny number of people may at some point in the future engage in harassing behaviour close to an abortion facility.
“No one wants to see people harassed when approaching a hospital or GP surgery. Were such incidents to occur, the authorities already have wide-ranging powers to deal with the situation under existing public order laws. Senior members of An Garda Síochána have repeatedly made this clear to the Minister for Health, yet he persists in pressing ahead with this regressive and draconian proposal, for no other reason than to appease a group of radical pro-abortion campaigners who have lobbied non-stop for such a law.
“The fact that citizens could be jailed under this proposal for silently expressing a position in public is utterly alarming. Minister Donnelly even acknowledged on 10th February in the Seanad that introducing such a law “pushes up against civil liberties”, but persisted with it regardless. The Government’s proposal has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with singling out a particular category of people, namely those who oppose abortion, and criminalising the expression of their views. In the interests of basic civil liberties and the constitutional right to peacefully assemble, the Government’s proposal must be opposed every step of the way.”