Healthcare workers, abortion campaign groups and members of the public have asked the Department of Health to introduce safe access zones for abortion services, reports Breaking News.
According to documents obtained by breakingnews.ie, under the Freedom of Information Act, since January 2022, the department has received 19 requests to define safe access zones.
An email sent to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly shows that protests outside medical centres and hospitals and attacks on people using abortion services have caused concern.
In February 2022, an email to Mr Donnelly called on the Department of Health to conduct an investigation into ethics, data, GDPR and potential violations of law that may have been related to the leak of information about the University Maternity Hospital visit schedule to protesters. in Limerick.
Alleged data breaches at University Hospital Limerick were also raised in another email, which claimed that anti-abortion protests coincided with abortion appointments.
The doctor said “[our] children have to pass the protesters and require explanations as to why these people stand outside our premises with their profane banners protesting legal care that both my husband and I are providing,” reports Breaking News.
Later that month, the Together for Security group asked for an update on the Safe Access Zone Act and asked why almost five years had not passed since the referendum on abortion services.
In May, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin contacted Mr Donnelly for an update on the Safe Access Zone regulations.
After receiving an email from Together for Safety, Mr Donnelly told Newstalk that safe access would be in place by July. The areas will be fully functional.
In June, the group raised further concerns about the Limerick protests, claiming that a worried woman had contacted them about protesters outside the Limerick maternity hospital.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: “The Minister for Health is committed to ensuring that there is safe access to termination of pregnancy services.” They stated that the relevant bill was initiated in the Houses of the Oireachtas in early July and is currently at Second Stage in Dáil Éireann. Subject to the Parliamentary timetable, it is the Minister’s intention to progress this legislation as expeditiously as possible and to have it enacted by the end of the year,” reports Breaking News.
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