A long line of people against a wire fence. Some hold candles. The fence is covered in placards which are mostly not legible but some of which read "Rights for Women" and similar. The photo is taken from across the road.

Huge anti-abortion protest marks final day of Lent, encouraged by Paisley Diocese

March 25, 2024

Around 100 anti-abortion protestors stood outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on Sunday, holding placards and leaflets opposing abortion and offering ‘support’ to service users.

In the days leading up to the event, the Paisley Diocese of the Catholic encouraged its members to attend what it called a “Palm Sunday Prayer Vigil.” The leader of the diocese, Bishop John Keenan, recently gave testimony against the introduction of safe-access zones around abortion clinics to Holyrood’s health committee. During his appearance he described anti-abortion leaflets riddled with misinformation, of the kind handed out by protestors, as “factually accurate.”

As during previous years, pro-choice counter protest placards were put up along the railings behind the protestors. Groups such as Back Off Scotland have advised against in-person counter-protests, which they have stated may add to distress for service users. As such the protests are intended to show a strong message of support for abortion rights and oppose the religious bigotry represented by the protestors.

The so-called 40 Days for Life campaign, which devised the idea of in-person harassment of abortion-care users during Lent, is an evangelical Protestant group based in Texas. It claims to have a network of “several hundred” volunteers in Scotland. The majority of those attending rallies, however, appear to be brought by the Catholic Church.

In a statement offered to The Daily Record, our CEO Fraser Sutherland said:

“We now have reams of evidence attesting to the fact that people seeking abortion care find protests like these intimidating and intrusive. Medical staff have also spoken out against them. Moreover, the desire to mass in large numbers outside a healthcare facility and harass people entering has nothing to do with the nature of ‘prayer’ as most people of faith in Scotland understand it. The idea of protesting outside abortion facilities during Lent in fact originates with North-American Christian evangelism, of the kind that is increasingly infiltrating our national culture. We strongly support safe-access zones around abortion facilities and hope this is the last year people seeking healthcare will have to face demeaning scenes like these”

Gillian Mackay MSP’s Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill is currently being discussed in Holyrood. If MSPs vote to pass the bill in to law, 40 Days for Life protests could be illegal Lent next year.

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