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Buffer zones consultation opens


The Bill is being brought by Gillian Mackay MSP. 

Holyrood’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee is seeking views on a new Bill which would establish “safe access zones” around locations where abortion services are provided, what it calls “protected premises”.

If passed, the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Scotland Bill, introduced by Gillian Mackay MSP, would make it an offence to behave in certain ways within a safe access zone.

Examples of behaviour that could be considered an offence include influencing a person’s decision to access services, preventing them from accessing those services, or causing harassment or distress while doing so.

The Bill also makes it an offence for someone within 200 metres of protected premises but not on public land (and so not within the safe access zone) to act in a way that might result in pressure or distress for someone within a safe access zone who is accessing abortion services.  

Fines of up to £10,000 could be issued for those convicted of disrupting people within safe access zones attempting to access abortion services. However, in very serious cases, there would be no limit on the fine.

The Bill also creates provision for future protected premises to be created, and for the safe access zone radius surrounding a protected premises to be extended or reduced, if appropriate. 

Clare Haughey MSP, convener of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, said: “We recognise the strength of feeling about this Bill. As a Committee we always aim to consider any Bill or issue in a careful, balanced and thorough way.

“We are committed to ensuring we scrutinise this Bill in detail so that we can hear and consider all views.

“The Bill’s stated aim is to ensure that people can access abortion services without fear of, and free from, intimidation, harassment or public judgement.

“We want to hear views from individuals and organisations on whether they agree with the proposals within this Bill and if they would welcome the changes it would bring about.”



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Morna Kirk
6 months ago

If buffer zones are the best they can come up with, I’ll go with thatb but they should be extended to much further away. Also, why can’t the police arrest protesters and charge them with hate crimes/ breach of the peace/ threatening and intimidating behaviours? Why don’t the protesters go and shout all they like in a more appropriate place, far away from clinics/ hospitals eg. Speakers corners in parks. These places are already in existence and used for protesting other issues.