News & Media

Harris must legislate for exclusion zones

9 July 2019

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik has reiterated her call for action by the Minister for Health to tackle the issue of Exclusion Zones to protect women who seek access to abortion services.

Senator Bacik said;

"Since the passing of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 many of us in opposition have been asking the Minister for Health to take action to protect women and their partners from intimidation as they enter GP surgeries and hospitals. 

"Exclusion Zones were not included in the legislation for abortion passed in December  2018 and many of us raised this issue during the debates at the time, and warned about the risk such protests could have on the wellbeing of women. 

"The wide reporting of the use of insensitive props at a protest outside Holles Street recently validates calls for exclusion zones. The creation of exclusion zones was promised by Simon Harris last year and yet it has still not materialised. He has allowed the issue to fall off the agenda and women accessing healthcare have been left to deal with the fallout. Nobody should be shamed or judged while entering a GP’s surgery. Nobody should have to see the images and props used by these groups as they leave a maternity hospital. 

“Exclusion Zones restricting protests which obstruct access to abortion services are in effect already in other countries, including parts of Canada, Australia, and the US.  The law providing for access to abortion services is not enough, we must ensure that women have safe access too. We must pass laws as soon as possible to prevent the intimidation and obstruction of women in a crisis pregnancy who seek to access legal services."