Buffer zones: voices of medical staff key to delivering protections

Buffer zones will protect staff and patients from intimidation and harassment.

The voices of medical staff are key to ensuring the delivery of safe access zones, says Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay.

Ms Mackay’s comments come ahead of today’s evidence session for her Bill, which will create 200 metre safe access zones, or ‘buffer zones’ to stop anti-choice campaign groups from protesting outside abortion service providers.

The session will hear evidence from those providing abortion services, including representatives from the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of General Practitioners, NHS Lothian and Circle Health.

Ms Mackay said: “The voices of medical staff are crucial to ensuring we have the most robust legislation possible. They have to pass the protests every day that they take place, sometimes right on their doorsteps. 

“I have heard from a lot of doctors and nurses and others, who are being hugely affected, but are also all too aware of the terrible impact that these anti-choice protests are having on their patients, as well as others who use their buildings.

“Nobody should have to pass these kinds of banners and placards just to get to work. It is not fair on service users and it is not fair on staff.

“We are so close to making buffer zones a reality, and ending the harassment for good.”

The session will then hear evidence from those who will be responsible for enforcing and managing buffer zones, including COSLA, Police Scotland and the Scottish Bar Association.

Ms Mackay added: “It is equally important that we hear from those who are responsible for actually enforcing buffer zones and that we learn from them about what we can do to help them.

“I am really grateful to everyone who is giving evidence, and for everything they have done to help the process to date. I am determined that we produce the most robust legislation possible and that it is a Bill we can all be proud of.”

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