Northern Ireland makes it illegal to offer help to women outside abortion clinics

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Northern Ireland makes it illegal to offer help to women outside abortion clinics

Members of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland have approved a Bill that will allow for the introduction of censorship zones which will criminalise offers of assistance outside of abortion clinics in the region.

On Thursday 24 March, by a vote of 55 to 29, MLAs in Stormont approved the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill introduced by Green Party MLA, Clare Bailey. The Bill makes it a criminal offence to “influenc[e]… a… person [seeking an abortion], whether directly or indirectly” within “safe access zones”. The Bill will effectively criminalise offers of assistance and prayer within 150m of abortion clinics or hospitals where a censorship zone is place.

Claire Bailey MLA had attempted to fast-track the Bill so that it might be heard ahead of schedule on Tuesday 22 March. However, members of both the TUV and DUP objected to this debate being brought forward. The Final Stage of the Bill was instead discussed on Thursday afternoon.

A public consultation on the Bill found that only 13 out of 6,412 respondents were supportive of the Bill.

 

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