The UK Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal to ban pro-life demonstrations and advocacy from the perimeter of abortion clinics.
Northern Ireland Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill would legalize ‘buffer’ zones around abortion clinics which would ban pro-life groups or protesters from being within 328 feet of an abortion provider .
The Supreme Court upheld the law as “justifiable” and not in conflict with the nation’s constitution, nor with the European Convention on Human Rights.
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Green Party leader Clare Bailey introduced the bill in September last year. It was passed on 24 March by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Northern Ireland Attorney General Brenda King has referred the bill to the Supreme Court over fears that the bill’s broad perimeter banning pro-life rhetoric could violate the European Convention of Laws’ protection of freedom of expression. human rights.
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The law prohibits both “direct” and “indirect” influence by pro-life groups, which includes not only pamphleteering, but also silent rallies and prayer.
“Peaceful presence, simple conversation, quiet or silent prayer – these activities should never be criminalized in a democratic society like the UK,” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal adviser to Alliance Defending Freedom.
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“Northern Ireland’s sweeping draft law gives police officers arbitrary power, with the inevitable consequence of arresting and unjustly prosecuting those who hold pro-life views, even if those views are protected by national and international law on human rights,” added Igunnubole.
Green Party member Gillian Mackay plans to introduce parallel legislation in the Scottish Parliament.