MSPs vow to consider 'all views' on abortion buffer zones Bill

A Holyrood committee is set to begin scrutinising the legislation aimed at preventing the harassment of women accessing healthcare.

MSPs vow to consider ‘all views’ on abortion buffer zones Bill STV News

“All views” will be considered in the scrutiny of legislation to outlaw protests outside abortion clinics, a Holyrood committee has pledged.

The Bill could see those opposed to abortion fined if they stage a protest within 200 metres of health facilities – with unlimited fines for serious breaches.

The legislation, which has been brought forward by Green MSP Gillian Mackay, is being supported by the Scottish Government.

It came after a rise in anti-abortion demonstrations outside hospitals which led to complaints of harassment and intimidation of women accessing healthcare.

MSPs on Holyrood’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee are now set to scrutinise the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill, with convener Clare Haughey saying they want to hear from both supporters and opponents of the legislation.

She 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 judgment.

“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.”

Commenting on the Bill going before the committee, Mackay said: “This is a key moment and marks the start of parliamentary scrutiny for my Member’s Bill. I hope that as many people as possible engage with the process.

“This is a crucial Bill and I want it to be as effective and robust as possible.

“The consultation I undertook when preparing my Bill received over 12,000 submissions, which shows the depth of feeling.

“This feedback was crucial to shaping it, and I hope that we see a similar level of engagement for this stage of the process as well.

“There is no excuse for the intimidation and harassment that far too many people have been forced to endure outside hospitals all over Scotland.

“It is totally wrong, and my Bill will end it for good.”

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