'There are other ways to protest' – Taoiseach criticises anti-abortion activists picketing outside GP's surgery

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has criticised an anti-abortion protest that took place outside of a GP service this week.

He said women experiencing a crisis pregnancy are “going through enough upset and turmoil without having to be exposed to more of it on the way into their GP’s surgery.”

Mr Varadkar’s remarks come after anti-abortion activists protested outside a GP service in Galway on Thursday.

They held signs reading ‘real doctors don’t terminate their patients’ and ‘say no to abortion’ outside the Galvia West Medical Centre.

The government plan to introduce exclusion zones to prevent anti-abortion  protests outside GP clinics and hospitals.

Pro-Choice campaigner Ailbhe Smyth called for Health Minister Simon Harris to bring in planned legislation to allow for exclusion zones around medical centres offering abortion services immediately.

She told Newstalk Radio that she viewed such protests as “deplorable”.

Mr Varadkar couldn’t offer a time-table on when this legislation will be passed.

He said: “It’s something Minister Harris is working on and I know he’s very committed to doing.”

Mr Varadkar said a balance has to be struck between “protecting women and patients from being impeded from entering a hospital or GP clinic and also not doing anything that unduly restricts free speech.”

He also said: “It’s my strong view that while I respect people who are pro-life, who oppose abortion I don’t think anyone should be impeded when they’re trying to access a medical service.

“Accessing a medical service, particularly something like abortion, is a very private, very personal thing and I don’t think it’s right to protest outside hospitals, to protest outside GPs’ clinics in that way.

“There are other ways to protest.”

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