As the Oireachtas Committee for Health undertakes its pre-legislative scrutiny on the General Scheme of Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD’s Health (Termination of Pregnancy Services (Safe Access Zones)) Bill 2022, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has taken the opportunity to submit its views on the draft legislation to the Minister and the Committee.
On its website the Department of Health states that ‘the aim of the General Scheme of the Bill and the underpinning policy ‘is to ensure safe access to Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) services for women, service providers and their staff throughout the country… [It] proposes to designate safe access zones around sites that can provide TOP services in accordance with the [Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy)] Act of 2018.’
Although there has not been a formal call for evidence at this stage, in its submission PCI states that while it is important that women seeking to access services should be protected from harassment ‘… a sincere desire to help women and their families in crisis has arrived at a misguided and unwise proposal’.
As an all-Ireland denomination that is committed to a pro-life for the whole-of-life position, the submission goes on to express concern that ‘the law as proposed and framed is unnecessary, impractical, and likely to be counter-productive, undermining public order and curtailing the freedoms of expression and religion that are necessary for a constitutional republic.’ It concludes by urging the Minister and the Committee to reconsider the legislation and recommends that it is withdrawn completely.’
The submission has been made on behalf of PCI by the Council for Public Affairs’ Republic of Ireland Panel, which assesses various aspects of government policy and legislation going through the Oireachtas.
PCI’s submission is available to read here.
The news release quoting Rev William Hayes, Convener of the Republic of Ireland Panel, can be read here.