Censorship Zones Threaten Irish Women

Women in the Republic of Ireland should not be prevented from hearing about alternatives to abortion outside buildings where abortions take place, a pro-life Senator has said.

Under the Government’s Health (Termination of Pregnancy Services) (Safe Access Zones) Bill, people who offer advice or otherwise seek to assist pregnant women within 100 metres of an abortion centre will be committing a criminal offence. Repeat 'offenders' could face a €2,500 fine, or up to six months in prison.

But speaking at Committee Stage, Independent Senator Rónán Mullen (pictured) urged the Irish Government not to “curtail free speech” by elevating abortion “above scrutiny to a literally unprecedented degree”.

Senator Mullen highlighted that the Garda Commissioner has conceded that there are already laws in place to tackle problematic behaviour. He said there are those who just want to “witness to human dignity” and the fact that abortion is not “bona fide healthcare”.

“There are people who have suffered themselves as a result of abortion and who have hopes regarding the effect of their peaceful and respectful presence within the vicinity of a healthcare facility, without knowing who is going in for what”.

“Nobody is in anybody’s face here, and nobody wants to be in anybody’s face here. Let those who do want to be in somebody’s face be targeted by the public order legislation. Let us have no more of this dishonesty from the Government.”

Another pro-life Senator, Sharon Keogan, who lost two children through miscarriage, said: “The right of citizens to freely organise legitimate protests, gatherings and rallies that stand for the pro-life message must be protected.

“No evidence has been produced by the Minister that any public order offences were ever recorded – not one piece of evidence.

“I am shocked that a Government is so afraid of the people of faith of this country who gather quietly outside the hospitals and centres. To bring this draconian legislation in is a sad day for free speech in this country, and a sad day for the unborn.”