Northern Ireland considering abortion clinic ‘buffer zone’ law

Oct 19, 2021 by

by Jonah McKeown, CNA:

A proposal to require so-called “buffer zones” around abortion clinics – an area where protests would not be allowed – is reportedly drawing support in Northern Ireland’s parliament. If passed, the law, which has progressed past the first legislative stage, would be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.

The bill would empower the Department of Health to establish “safe access” zones outside abortion facilities, the BBC reported.

Patients and employees of abortion clinics are identified in the bill as “protected persons.” Offenses under the bill would include “influencing a protected person, whether directly or indirectly…preventing or impeding access by a protected person…causing harassment, alarm or distress to a protected person.”

The member of parliament who introduced the bill, Clare Bailey, claimed that while volunteering at a Belfast abortion clinic over 10 years ago, she was “spat at, I had holy water splashed on me, I was verbally abused, I had one young woman who was so distressed she ran into four lanes of oncoming traffic to escape the protestors.”

However, the leaders of a British pro-life group pushed back against claims that harassment outside abortion facilities is commonplace.

“Contrary to the claims of Claire Bailey, the harassment of women and staff outside abortion facilities has been proven to be extraordinarily rare,” said Michael Robinson, executive director of the British pro-life group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

“The intimidation of women outside abortion facilities has been proven time and time again to be a lie, while the abuse that pro-lifers have suffered has not been subject to a review at all,” he added, pointing out that a pro-life supporter was assaulted outside a Belfast abortion clinic in June.

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