A measure designed to ensure the public has unhindered access to abortion services at Noble's Hospital will be brought to Tynwald this week.
Members will be asked to approve an Order creating an access zone in and around the hospital, in line with the provisions of the Abortion Reform Act 2019, to give legal protection to patients and those providing abortion services.
If approved, the Access to Abortion Services (Noble's Hospital Access Zone) Order 2019 will come into force on 24 May 2019, the day on which wide-ranging reforms in the Act become operational in Manx law.
The access zone comprises the entire Noble's estate, including the land on which the hospital stands, and public roads within 100 metres of the site.
The Order - if approved and once the Act comes into operation - creates a number of offences. It will be unlawful for instance to interfere, impede or repeatedly communicate with a person without their consent in the access zone, having been warned not to do so by a constable.
Provision for access zones around the hospital, made under part 3 of the Act, also allows for the High Court to impose injunctions to restrain individuals from contravening the access zone.
Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford said:
'The Island is taking a progressive and historic step this month in reforming outdated abortion laws. It has been a long and painstaking road to this point. Substantial resources have been used to research and write a highly complex piece of legislation, to ensure it is right in every respect. The access zone Order addresses important issues, as we're determined not only to enhance women's rights to legal abortion services, but to ensure that in practice, those services can be accessed safely and appropriately. Access zones apply to National Health Service hospitals in the UK and elsewhere and serve patients and providers of abortion services well.'
A public notice setting out what the access zone is for, its boundaries, potential offences and the date it comes into operation will be publicised in the Isle of Man media.
If Tynwald approves the Order, a permanent sign drawing attention to the access zone will be erected at the entrance and approaches to Noble's Hospital.