Where are the promised Safe Access Zones?

11 November 2021

Labour spokesperson Senator Annie Hoey has called on the Minister for Health to urgently enact the promised Safe Access Zones legislation. Welcoming the passage of the bill at second stage, Senator Hoey said that the delay is having a huge impact on people seeking access to reproductive healthcare, as well as health workers, who experience abuse outside of providers.

Senator Hoey said:

“Dignity and privacy are two things that every patient attending their GP or hospital has a right to expect. As it is, abortion is one of the few services that a patient already must worry about being provided for by their GP – only 10% of GPs nationally are providing at the moment.

“After people secure themselves this healthcare the last thing they should have to do is face into a crowd of people, some of whom they might well know from their local area, standing outside their GP’s office or hospital, casting judgement on them. It is not right, it is not fair and it should not be legal. I would go so far as to say that this would not be tolerated if it affected any other group of patients.

“We have a long and sad history in this country of judging, penalising and shamming people for their reproductive choices, and this is simply the newest manifestation of that. When Minister for Health, Simon Harris had promised to legislate for this and he did not. We simply cannot let this slide off the agenda of another Minister for Health.

“Repealing the eight amendment was only the start of the process. Campaigners called for safe access. The referendum campaign triggered a national conversation about the adverse effects of prohibiting abortion; we heard powerful testimonies from those whose lives were touched by tragedy because of draconian laws outlawing abortion. Following the repeal referendum, we must now ensure that our legislation provides effective protection for women’s reproductive healthcare rights.”

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