An MSP spearheading legislation aimed at halting protests outside abortion clinics is visiting Ireland to “learn from experiences”.
Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay is holding talks with representatives from across the Dail Eireann, the lower house in Ireland’s parliament, including the minister of sate Ossian Smyth, as well as campaigners.
Mackay said the Bill she is introducing to Holyrood is similar to that in Ireland, so she will use the four-day trip to share experiences.
The Green MSP is bringing forward the Abortion Services Safe Access Zones (Scotland) Bill in a bid to stop anti-abortion protesters from gathering outside clinics.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged Scottish Government support for so-called buffer zones.
Campaigners at Back Off Scotland, however, have raised concerns that the timetable for passing the Bill through Holyrood has “regressed”.
Mackay stressed that she wanted to make sure the Bill put before MSPs is the “best and most robust legislation it can be”.
Speaking ahead of the trip, she said: “The images we have seen, and the stories I have been told by people who have been intimidated, obstructed and abused outside medical facilities, are shocking.
“I am proud to be introducing a Bill to stop the protests, and want to ensure it is the best and most robust legislation it can be.
“That is why I am speaking to representatives from the Irish government as well as campaign groups who have been on the frontline of tackling the same problem.
“I want to learn from their experiences and share some of mine.”
She added: “Abortion rights are human rights. In years to come, people will look back at these appalling protests and wonder why they were allowed to go on for so long.
“By working together and learning from one another, whether in Scotland or Ireland, we can end the harassment for good.”