Last week, Ireland voted to overturn legal recognition of the right to life of the preborn. Before the results of the referendum, pro-abortion politicians also preemptively promised to introduce abortion laws allowing for the killing of the preborn up to six months of pregnancy. In the week following the vote, sources in the Department of Health have said that abortion will be free under the government-funded health care system. According to the Times (UK), “[s]enior sources in the Department of Health” have stated that “Women with medical cards will be able to get abortion pills in early pregnancy from their GP without charge. Surgical terminations, performed either before 12 weeks or later in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities or risk to life or health, will also be free.”
Along with this, the Irish government is seeking to prevent pro-life citizens from protesting outside abortion facilities.
Sources indicate that Health Minister Simon Harris is trying to make it illegal for pro-lifers to stand next to abortion facilities by creating a “buffer zone,” an area protesters are forbidden from entering. According to the Independent, “The minister is said to be conscious of balancing any such prohibitions with the well-established right to freedom of expression, of which the right to protest is key.”
As the “buffer zone” is still in preliminary stages and no official guidelines have been released, it is not clear if Harris’s proposal will indeed protect the freedom of expression of pro-life citizens. In the United States, such buffer zones have been struck down by the Supreme Court.
Pro-abortion politicians in Ireland point to isolated instances of abortion victim images used during the referendum campaign as proof of the need for such a buffer zone. However, the reality is that most pro-life protesters are not present to demonstrate but to offer assistance. So-called pro-life protesters are often sidewalk counselors offering women information about alternatives and assistance.
As many as 64 percent of post-abortive American women “felt pressured by others” to have the abortion, highlighting the vital role sidewalk counselors can play in offering an alternative.