Louth is set to become the first county to have exclusion zones to deter anti-abortion activists from gathering outside hospitals and clinics where abortions are being carried out.

The motion passed by Louth County Council states that protesters would “exclude any form of prohibited behaviour within a 500-meter area from the outer edge of the healthcare facility”.

Drogheda’s Lady of Lourdes Hospital has twice this year seen anti-abortion campaigners protest outside the hospital.

A Facebook page, Pro-Life Ireland, claimed on social media that there was abortions set to take place in the hospital the night before the protest.

“The first abortion in our Lady of Lourdes hospital is scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning Monday 7th. The priests in Drogheda have asked for prayers that the woman will have a change of heart overnight and not go through with the procedure. Please spread the word.”

The protest group then gathered outside the main entrance to the hospital, holding placards which read “Abortion is murder”, “Let him be born”. “Let her be born”or “Killing in progress”.

These protests are why Fianna Fail Cllr. Emma Coffey has decided to put forward the motion, which she is hopeful will be brought before the council and passed before the end of the year.

“The lack of national legislation for safe zones outside hospitals and GP health centres, the fact that there has been protests outside our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and other medical centres in the country,” she said.

“I am a solicitor by profession and I kept asking myself the question what can Louth County Council do to protect women and their families from this harassment in our county. Hence why I proposed by-laws under s.199 of the Local Government Act 2001.”

“I would be hopeful that the bye law will be brought before the council for passing in about 8 months,” Coffey continued.

An Garda Síochána stated they were not in a position to comment on proposed or pending legislation when questioned if there would be in any issues in regards to how the exclusion zones would be enforced.

Gerard Grimes

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