Groups such as ‘Sidewalk Advocates for Life’ have begun training people in Ireland to approach and try to discourage women from using abortion services.
Dublin city councillors will vote on Monday evening on a motion that would set out exclusion zones outside healthcare facilities providing termination services in Ireland.
The Green Party’s emergency motion comes after Louth county councillors voted last month to ban all anti-abortion protests or demonstrations within 500 metres of hospitals or clinics providing the services.
The motion passed by Louth County Council – put forward by local Fianna Fáil Councillor Emma Coffey – was aimed at preventing anti-abortion groups from targeting people working in health care facilities where abortion services are provided and from threatening, harassing, intimating and hindering women entering such centres.
They would also prohibit protesting, handing out literature, or putting up posters or pictures at healthcare facilities.
Following a series of anti-abortion protests since Ireland’s termination of pregnancy legislation came into effect on 1 January, the issue of exclusion zones around clinics and GP practices has become a pressing issue.
Councillors Patrick Costello, Ciarán Cuffe and Claire Byrne's call for safe access zones follows reports in The Times (Ireland Edition) that a US anti-abortion group plans to target women accessing services by training people to intercept them before entering hospitals and GP clinics.
Councillor Patrick Costello – who is coordinating the emergency motion – stated, “With reports of American groups setting up in Ireland to harass and intimidate people at an already difficult time Dublin City Council needs to act to provide safety and privacy.”
Costello's motion states: "Following the lead on this important issue shown by Louth County Council, this council agrees to make a bye-law under section 199 of the local government act 2001 for control of public roads and footpaths adjacent to healthcare facilities providing abortion services within Dublin City to prohibit any of the following behaviour within 500 meters of the boundary edge of a healthcare facility:
- Continuously or repeatedly observing a service provider or other person accessing a healthcare facility
- Continuously or repeatedly observing a healthcare facility
- Engaging in threatening behaviour
- Harassing or intimidating behaviour
- Obstructing anyone from using services in a healthcare facility
- Distributing of displaying leaflets, pamphlets, or other documentation
- Affixing bills, posters or others notices onto any part of the healthcare facility."
“Louth council have shown other councils that these issues can be addressed and that we don’t have to wait for central government," Councillor Cuffe said.
"Dublin City Council must act now, and we would call on other councils to take similar action.
“The Green Party councillors on Dublin City Council want to ensure that vulnerable women are protected."