“A mother asking her pregnant daughter to reconsider an abortion and offering to give her and the baby the supports they need, within 100-metres of a GP clinic, would likely fall foul of the law under this draconian law” – Eilís Mulroy
Responding to the Cabinet’s consideration of ‘Safe Access Zone’ legislation this morning, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:
“At a time when the government’s Hate Speech Bill has generated a widespread furore due to its feared chilling effect on freedom of expression, the government’s proposed exclusion zone legislation would undoubtedly undermine fundamental rights of expression. In February 2022, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly acknowledged that ‘we are pushing up against civil liberties when we do this.’ Yet his Department has pushed on regardless with proposals which are overtly discriminatory as they single out a particular ethical worldview – a pro-life viewpoint – for censorship.
“The implications of this bill are far-reaching. It seeks to criminalise any 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 could criminalise conversations between family members. For instance, a mother asking her pregnant daughter to reconsider an abortion and offering to give her and the baby the supports they need, within 100-metres of a GP clinic, would likely fall foul of the law under this draconian law.”
“The supposed existential threat of pro-life ‘protests’ in the vicinity of GP clinics or hospitals has been drastically exaggerated. Some such as Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee spoke dramatically of ‘the horror of Limerick’, referring to alleged pro-life protests at University Hospital Limerick. This is despite the UL Hospitals Group stating in December 2021 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.”
“A consequence of the government’s proposed law could be to proscribe events such as the annual March for Life, which inadvertently passes within the arbitrary 100-metres zones of several GP clinics in a compact city like Dublin. Supporters of this Bill have failed to allay these very real concerns that this legislation would discriminate against one particular worldview – one which was supported by 1/3 of people in a referendum five years ago – and prevent pro-life citizens from gathering and expressing their views in public due to the large amount of proposed ‘zones’ within city spaces.”
Note to Editor:
Quotes from Stephen Donnelly and Lorraine Clifford-Lee respectively quoted from Seanad debate, 22 February 2022: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad/2022-02-10/11/.
Quote from statement of UL Hospitals Group: https://www.limerickpost.ie/2021/12/09/limerick-hospital-group-says-it-has-no-record-of-anti-abortion-protests/