MSPs back Scotland-wide abortion censorship zones

The Scottish Parliament has voted through legislation banning pro-life witness outside abortion centres.

Last week, Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay’s Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill passed into law by 118 votes to 1.

People now risk a fine for handing out pro-life literature within 200m of a centre, as well as speaking to anyone about abortion or holding a silent ‘prayer vigil’.

Criminal offence

The law prohibits behaviour that seeks to influence “the decision of another person to access, provide or facilitate” an abortion.

It also criminalises any individual deemed to ‘prevent or impede’, or cause “harassment, alarm or distress” to someone in relation to their “decision to access, provide or facilitate” an abortion.

A person convicted of an offence under the Act could face an unlimited fine.

Celebrating her success, Mackay claimed: “No protester and no group should be allowed to tell women what they are or are not allowed to do with their body.”


During an earlier debate on the legislation, Scottish Conservative MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane asked: “Are we asking the police to determine whether the law is breached by a bystander who might be engaged in silent prayer? Are we criminalising thought?

“We must be clear how we police this, given that, during evidence at the committee, the police were clear that they would not ask somebody why they were at a buffer zone, and they clearly said that they were not the thought police.”

In March, pro-lifers told the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee that the proposed law threatens religious freedom and freedom of thought.

Director of March for Life UK Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, who was arrested for silently praying outside an abortion clinic in Birmingham while it was closed, called on Holyrood to “promote tolerance as opposed to censorship”.

Also see:

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Ireland rejects safeguards as abortion censorship zones pushed through

Abortion censorship zones come into force in NI

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