The Scottish Government is encouraging local councils to restrict pro-life free speech.
The advice was given in response to a letter from Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP in which he called a recent pro-life event in Edinburgh “alarming”.
Pro-life critics warned that restricting abortion protests would be “desperate and repressive”.
Edinburgh City Council recently rejected proposals to create ‘censorship zones’ outside abortion clinics.
Last month, a report from the council said there was ‘no evidence’ that pro-life supporters were causing “unnecessary distress”.
The report, presented to the Edinburgh South East Locality Committee, said it was not necessary to “enact any police measures”.
But in response to Cole-Hamilton, a Scottish Government spokesman stated that councils are able to impose measures to restrict protests.
He added: “The Scottish Government would encourage those councils or integrated joint boards who have concerns about abortion protests to consider whether making a bylaw would be appropriate in their area.”
John Deighan, Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Scotland, said: “Mr Cole-Hamilton wants to ban a tiny number of people who gather occasionally near health clinics to offer women support to have their babies.”
He concluded: “In reality, it is a desperate and repressive measure.”
Leo Cushley, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh defended pro-lifers, saying that their actions were “out of love for mothers, unborn children, their families and the common good of wider society”.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese added that many people in Edinburgh would be “deeply concerned” by the characterisation of a pro-life gathering as ‘threatening’.