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Schools did not provide balance to anti-abortion visits: Humanist Society comments in The Herald

May 2, 2023

We were pleased to have our say in a new article in The Herald revealing that eight Scottish local authorities which allowed an anti-abortion group to speak to pupils about reproductive health failed to provide alternative, pro-choice visits.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which also opposes equal marriage and buffer zones around abortion services, was invited to make dozens of schools visits across Scotland last year. At the time many local councils argued these visits were in the interests of balance, with Glasgow City Council telling The Herald, who broke the story, that young people must be “given the opportunity to hear different perspectives from outside organisations.”

However, The Herald has today revealed that in almost all of the council areas where SPUC was invited to spread misinformation to pupils, no such alternative visits were offered or arranged. This flies in the face of councils’ arguments around balance, and suggests that much more should be done in future to ensure children across Scotland have access to rights and facts-based abortion education.

Humanist Society Scotland CEO Fraser Sutherland told The Herald:

“Humanist Society Scotland is alarmed to learn that almost none of the schools which allowed faith-based anti-abortion group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children to talk to their pupils were visited by pro-choice groups during the same period. We are often told that religious groups deserve a say on abortion in the interests of ‘balance.’ Clearly that has not happened here, to the detriment of young people’s education and rights.

The complex topic of abortion must be presented by professional teachers with appropriate resources and training or by healthcare professionals. Abortion is a matter of healthcare and women’s reproductive rights. Facts matter. We support teaching about faith-based worldviews in religious and philosophical education or similar parts of the curriculum. But the context in which SPUC was allowed to position its one sided campaign material as healthcare education is totally unacceptable.”

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