Everyone has a right to healthcare that’s free from harassment

Our Scottish Parliament has rightly given its overwhelming back to the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill, which seeks to protect women from harassment and intimidation as they access vital healthcare services.

The bill easily cleared Stage 1 in Holyrood, with 123 MSPs voting in favour.

Whatever your personal views on abortion, we can all agree that women should be free from abuse and intimidation.

The Bill proposes to create “safe access zones” around places where abortion services are provided, which will normally consist of the protected premises, their public grounds and any other public land within 200 metres.

MSPs backed its general principles in a vote ysterday and, should the bill become law, it would be an offence to act in a way that might prevent a person from getting an abortion or make them feel harassed while they are accessing abortion services within a safe access zone.

As a healthcare professional, I understand how important it is that those accessing abortion services, as well as those providing them, are able to do so in a safe, supportive environment.

Every Scot must be allowed to make the best health decisions for them, in conjunction with healthcare professionals, and the decision to access abortion services is a deeply personal one.

Through cross-party cooperation, Holyrood has shown that it is possible to protect access to essential healthcare, free at the point of use, as well as the rights of freedom of expression and religion.

I look forward to continuing constructive engagement across the chamber and maintaining our focus on ensuring that all Scots can access healthcare free from harassment and intimidation.