Together for Safety – Campaigning for Safe Access Zone Legislation
What is Together for Safety?
Together for Safety is a National Campaign working for legislation that would enforce Safe Access Zones around all family planning centres / maternity hospitals / health care facilities in Ireland who provide or give information on abortion.
What are Safe Access Zones?
Safe Access Zones are fixed areas around health care facilities where protesting, intimidating behaviour and/or communication about abortion would be strictly and legally prohibited.
Why do we need Safe Access Zones?
Currently, and including during level five COVID-19 lockdowns, people from different anti-choice organisations and anti-choice individuals have been consistently present and protesting outside of maternity hospitals, family planning clinics and GPs surgeries all over the country.
Everybody should have the right to access healthcare, including abortion services, in dignity, privacy and safety. People should have the right to go to work without having to worry about passing pickets or putting up with harassment or intimidating behaviour while doing their job. Additionally, we have received reports from members or the general public, residents near these facilities, businesses near these facilities and services users that they find their presence incredibly distressing.
What about the right to protest?
Together for Safety fundamentally believe in the right to protest. We also believe that everybody should have the right to access healthcare in dignity, privacy and safety. It is important to find a solution that keeps the public safe and free from judgement and harassment and gives people their right to protest. We believe the answer to this issue is the implementation of Safe Access Zones.
Why is this important now?
The current Legislative Programme for 2021 includes a ‘Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill’ and work on the Bill is currently underway. We want to make sure that this issue is given the priority it deserves. The ‘Repeal Review’ is also due to begin before the end of the year. You can find more information on the Repeal Review here.
I would like to help with this campaign, what can I do?
There are many ways you can help Together for Safety:
- Help promote the campaign in your networks and social circles, use #TogetherForSafety or #SafeAccessZones on social media. Twitter: @Together_Safety Facebook: TogetherForSafety Instagram: togetherforsafety
- Contact your local public representative – Councillors / Senators / TDs – let them know about the campaign, that you support it and you want them to pledge their support and work towards the implementation of Safe Access Zones in Ireland. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties have made it even easier for you to contact your local Senator and TD. Click here for more.
- Write to your local Councillors asking them to bring a motion to council to write to Minister Donnelly asking him to bring in legislation as a matter of urgency. In July of this year Limerick City and County Council passed such a motion. – We would be happy to work with local Councillors on this. Contact us for more information.
- If you have witnessed or been negatively impacted by these protesters or their anti-choice activity please consider sharing your story with us. You can do so anonymously. Click here to share your experiences.
- You are also welcome to report any protest sightings to us via social media or email.
- Sign and share our petition calling on the Government to implement legislation on Safe Access Zones.
- Map out local clinics/ GPs/ Hospitals/ Family Planning centres in your area.
- Contact your local Pro-Choice group or Abortion Rights Campaign and ask how you can support them.
- Attend the 10th Annual March for Choice: Breaking Barriers Demo which is taking place in Dublin on September 25th at 2pm. More info can be found here.
What will you do with the information you collect from people?
The stories and experiences people kindly share with us around how they have been upset and negatively impacted by protestors will be collected and stored anonymously. They will be shared by us occasionally on social media and included our communications with journalists, Government Representatives and in the submission we are drafting for the Repeal Review. They will also be included in our upcoming research report.
What else are you doing?
- Earlier this year we worked with a local Councillor in Limerick to submit a motion asking Limerick City and County Council to contact the Department of Health on the urgent need for Safe Access Zone Legislation. This motion passed and included support from Councillors who voted ‘No’ in the 2018 Repeal Referendum. We are happy to work with Councillors from other Local Authorities who are interested in putting forward similar motions in their locality.
- We are contacting all Councillors / Senators / TDs to let them know about the campaign, to invite them to meet with us, support this campaign and to work cross party on implementing Safe Access Zones in Ireland.
- Our legal team is drafting Safe Access Zone Legislation.
- We are working with researcher Dr Camilla Fitzsimons and Maynooth University to gather information from healthcare workers who provide abortion services on how anti-choice protests impact their work.
- We are inviting organisations and community stakeholders to contact us and pledge their support to the campaign.
I have more questions
If you have any other questions please feel free to contact us.
- Email: info[AT]togetherforsafety.ie
- Twitter: @together_safety
- Instagram: @togetherforsafety
- Facebook: TogetherForSafety
Please note: We are asking all members of the public not to engage with or approach any protesters they may come across. Together for Safety does not and will not condone or advocate for the harassment and intimidation of anyone. The purpose of this campaign is to keep all citizens safe and free of judgement, harassment and intimidation as they go about their business.