Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill: island communities impact assessment screening

Island communities impact assessment (ICIA) screening for the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill.

Step one - Develop a clear understanding of your objectives

What are the objectives of the policy, strategy or service?

This Island Communities Impact Assessment screening document for the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill has been prepared by the Scottish Government on behalf of Ms Gillian Mackay MSP, and assesses the impact of the Bill on Island communities.

The aims of the Bill are to:

  • protect access to abortion services across Scotland;
  • ensure that people can access abortion services without fear of, and free from, intimidation, harassment or public judgement;
  • ensure that at the point of access users are protected from attempts to influence or persuade them in relation to their decision to access services;
  • take a preventative approach so all abortion services are covered, including those that have not experienced protests;
  • ensure that providers or facilitators of the service are protected from attempts to influence their decision to provide or facilitate abortion related services at their place of work or where those services are delivered;
  • prevent providers or facilitators from being reluctant to provide or facilitate services for fear of such protests occurring.

Importantly, the aim is not to prevent the expression of opposition to the provision of abortion services or restrict the expression of religious views on abortion. It is only to prevent their expression in limited areas to the extent necessary to achieve the overarching aims.

The key mechanism by which these overarching aims will be achieved is the creation of an automatic safe access zone around all premises which provide abortion services in Scotland where certain behaviour will be subject to criminal sanction. It is important to note that, while the Bill’s measures are narrow regarding the type and location of activity to be prohibited, a fundamental aim of the Bill is to prevent harm. For this reason, whilst anti-abortion activity has been documented at around a fifth of all sites offering abortion treatment in Scotland, the Bill’s provisions will extend to all premises providing abortion treatment across the country. This means anti-abortion activity will not have to occur before a zone will be established, and that all those seeking to access abortion services can be assured that their rights to access services are protected, no matter where they seek treatment.

What are the intended impacts/ outcomes and how do these potentially differ across the islands?

The Bill is intended to provide protection for those accessing, providing or facilitating abortion services from harmful anti-abortion activity which takes place in the safe access zone (or is visible or audible from the zone). All premises providing abortion services will be “protected premises” under the Bill and the safe access zones will be applied automatically. The zone will comprise the premises, any grounds associated with the premises, and any public areas within 200m from the edge of the premises. There will be no difference in the outcomes for Islands.

Is the policy, strategy or service new?

Yes, this is new policy; there is no existing provision for safe access zones.


Email: abortionteam@gov.scot

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