Proposals for the introduction of safe access zones outside maternity hospitals and clinics offering abortion services will be presented next spring, the health minister promised.
However, the health ministry maintains that there have been only a limited number of reports of anti-abortion protests which they say are “overwhelmingly positive”.
This contradicts preliminary research conducted by Maynooth University in conjunction with the Together for Safety campaign which found that anti-abortion activists have targeted doctor’s offices and clinics in at least 10 counties.
Legislation to protect women and staff from intimidation when entering health facilities was to be introduced alongside the introduction of abortion services in 2019. However, plans to establish safe havens 100m security have not yet been implemented.
Hundreds of abortion rights protesters attended a rally in Dublin over the weekend, calling for safe access zones and other measures to close remaining gaps in services after the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
Mr Donnelly said ensuring safe access to abortion services remains an ongoing priority.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said: “Ministry officials continue to prioritize safe access to pregnancy termination services and examine legislative options in this area. The minister plans to do so. include proposals for safe access zones in the legislative program for spring 2022. “
However, the spokesperson said that since the 2018 Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act came into force in January 2019, there have been “a limited number of reports of protests or any other action relating to the termination of pregnancy “.
“This is an extremely positive development, suggesting that pregnancy termination services have gone relatively well to date and are becoming a normal part of the Irish healthcare system, in line with government policy. However, we We are aware of reports of certain protests that have caused distress to those accessing and providing services. ”
The Ministry of Health is in regular contact with the HSE and has liaised with An Garda Síochána on secure access to services. The Garda National Protective Services Office has sent a notice to all stations in Garda to raise awareness of this issue. He ordered that all protests be monitored and that violations of applicable law be addressed.