Anti-abortion rallies outside clinics will be banned by the end of the year

This follows years of campaigning by pro-choice groups to enact safe access areas to protect patients and staff from intimidation when entering facilities that provide abortion care. .

The news has been welcomed by pro-choice activists as it means pro-life activists will no longer be able to hold vigils and protests within 100 yards of clinics that offer abortions.

A memo was circulated to Cabinet ministers on Tuesday detailing Health Minister Stephen Donnolly’s overall plan for the bill.

Together for Safety campaigner Karen Sugrue told Newstalk: ‘We have seen Safe Access Zone legislation on the spring and fall legislative calendar for the past three consecutive years.

“So we were a bit discouraged, but there are a lot of people today who have worked very, very hard on it for the past two years and are feeling very uplifted and hopeful.”

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“But we are a long way from having legislation in place and we are a long way from having people protected from harassment and abuse around health centers and that is what we want,” she continued.

“It won’t be over for us until those protections are in place and until people can access health care without the kinds of intimidation and harassment we see almost every day right now. “

The National Council of Women of Ireland welcomed the news.

“Introducing #SafeAccessZones is hugely important – @together_safety led this campaign and this progress is a testament to their dedication and huge commitment. We are proud to work with them as part of our Abortion Task Force.

Activist Ailbhe Smyth added: “The new Safe Zones Bill would protect women’s right to seek #abortion without intimidation or harassment #ProChoice #HumanRights.”

Sara H. Byrd