Minister Donnelly announces Government approval of the heads of bill to legislate for termination of pregnancy safe access zones

Published on: 29 July 2022

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD today announces that he has secured cabinet approval to legislate for the designation of safe access zones around healthcare premises to safeguard access to termination of pregnancy services.

Minister Donnelly said: "I am delighted that Government has agreed to these heads of bill. Nobody should be harassed, insulted, intimidated or interfered with in any way, or have their decision to access lawfully available healthcare services subject to attempted unsolicited influence by strangers.”

“The heads of bill designate specified healthcare premises and 100m surrounding their perimeter as safe access zones. The introduction of safe access zones will protect the freedom to access termination of services without impediment and the privacy and dignity of women accessing health services, as well as the service providers, and their staff in the course of their duties and responsibilities.” 

The heads of bill have been developed with the support and input of representatives of the Departments of Health and Justice, the HSE and An Garda Síochána. Following the Government decision to approve the heads of bill, a formal Bill will be drafted by the Office of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Department of Health. 

The heads of bill will be published on the Department’s website shortly. The Department intends to engage directly with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and Irish Council for Civil Liberties, seeking any observations they may have.

Minister Donnelly said: "I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on the Oireachtas Committee on Health to progress the heads of bill. Introducing safe access legislation is a Government priority and I am pleased to have reached this important milestone in the process. I wish to acknowledge the helpful public discussion on safe access zones over recent months, and in particular the work of the Together for Safety group in informing the development of legislative proposals”.   

“I am committed to seeing the Bill drafted as quickly as possible so it can be introduced to the Oireachtas, and I would appreciate support for that Bill when it is introduced."