Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones
We support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, and to access abortion services without facing intimidation or harassment.
Back Off Scotland
Bodily autonomy is a key tenet of humanism and we support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, and to access abortion services without facing intimidation or harassment. We support the work of Back Off Scotland who have been instrumental in calling for buffer zones around abortion clinics to protect women and girls using the services, and the proposed Abortion Services Safe Access Zones (Scotland) Bill.
Clinics that offer abortion services to women and girls in Scotland have become the focal point of anti abortion protests organised by an American Evangelical Christian organisation called 40 Days for Life. Protestors stand next to or near the entrances to clinics with placards, hold prayer vigils, and hand out unsolicited literature that has caused concern amongst healthcare professionals about the accuracy of the medical information and the objectivity of the alternative organisations they suggest women use instead of the NHS.
There is ample evidence to suggest that the presence of anti abortion protestors is detrimental to the women and girls using the services. Women seeking abortions have reported feeling harassed and intimidated when accessing a safe and legal health service that they need. People accessing other services (for pregnancy loss and sexual health clinics for example) and clinic staff have also reported feeling intimidated by protestors.
The proposed Abortion Services Safe Access Zones (Scotland) Bill will introduce safe access zones at all sites that provide abortion care in Scotland. This would mean that there would be a safe access zone with a perimeter of around 150 metres from the site entrance of any site providing abortion care. It would be unlawful to attempt to influence a person from accessing, providing, or facilitating the provision of abortion care within the safe access zone.
Protestors would be free to hold anti-abortion protests outwith the safe access zone, so their freedom of speech and belief is protected, but women and girls exercising bodily autonomy and accessing safe and legal abortion care services would not be directly affected by the protests. Protestors would be able to take their protests to outside the Scottish Parliament for example, where the decisions around abortion care are made, and leave health services free of the disruption and upset protests can cause.
We have supported the Back Off Scotland campaign group since it started in 2020 and will continue to do so as the Bill passes through the Scottish Parliament. We have provided advice, financial support to the campaign, supported the Bill as it makes its way through the parliament, and encouraged our members and supporters to support the Bill as it passes through the parliament.
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