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Abortion Rights Scotland 
Model Response to Short Survey on
Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill

IMPORTANT: Please note that we are aware that similarity detection software is likely to be used to analyse all responses. Therefore, we ask that you use our model response as a guide to your response and encourage you to make minor amendments to avoid detection by the software.

Thank you for your support! 


Our Model Response to Short Survey on Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill

Now closed

Do you agree with the purpose of the Bill? 

Yes – the purpose of the Bill (to create safe access zones around premises that provide treatment for the termination of pregnancy authorised under the Abortion Act 1967) is clear and appears consistent with similar safe access zone laws in other jurisdictions.


Do you agree that the Safe Access Zone radius around protected premises should be set at 200 metres? 

Yes, noting that the Bill provides for the flexibility for individual safe access zones to be extended or reduced as appropriate. However, section 8 of the Bill allows for Scottish Ministers to reduce the area of a safe access zone ‘if they consider it appropriate to do so’. This confers a broad discretion on Scottish Ministers and it may be appropriate to amend this section to include a list of factors that ought to be taken into consideration before making a decision to reduce the area of a safe access zone. This may help to avoid a scenario in which Scottish Ministers who oppose the use of safe access zones are able to reduce the area of safe access zones in a wholesale way that is inconsistent with the purpose of this Bill and undermines the purpose of the Bill.


Do you think the offences in the Bill are proportionate?

Yes, noting that the available penalties are fines and there are no custodial penalties. The exceptions also appear necessary and proportionate.

Do you have any further comments about the Bill?  

The introduction of safe access zones in Scotland is long overdue. The passage of this Bill will bring Scotland into line with other jurisdictions with safe access zones, and ensure that people accessing abortion services are not harassed when accessing healthcare.


The issue of anti-choice demonstrations outside health services is persistent and clearly organised in Scotland. While the demonstrators do have a right to express their beliefs, they should take their protests to neutral spaces or to political venues such as parliamentary buildings, and not to healthcare settings where patients and staff are at risk of harassment.

It may be necessary to signpost the existence of a safe access zone in a manner similar to a road sign, so that the public is aware: this would have the dual function of making it clear to people who might otherwise engage in the offences set out in the Bill that they are prohibited from doing so, and also provide assurance to patients that they have the benefit of being in a safe access zone. The provision for such signage may be best suited to regulations rather than an amendment to this Bill.

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