Scotland’s First Minister has said she intends to stop people handing out pro-life literature, offering prayer, or speaking to women about abortion near clinics.
In September last year, Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd told abortion activists that Scotland-wide buffer zones were ‘not on the cards’.
But last Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon informed Holyrood she now backed the introduction of legislation to create 150m ‘censorship zones’ around hospitals and abortion centres.
During a recent First Minister’s Questions, Sturgeon said: “There are legal complexities around this and it doesn’t help anybody for me to pretend that there are not.”
She continued: “My preference is that we would be able to legislate nationally in order that there is a consistency of approach in this.”
Following pressure from pro-abortion campaigners, Sturgeon will chair an ‘emergency summit’ on Monday 27 June to consider shutting down peaceful protests outside abortion clinics.
In May, MSP Gillian Mackay launched a public consultation on her proposal to “create protest free buffer zones” outside abortion providers in Scotland.
Compassion Scotland, a new campaign group opposed to censorship zones around hospitals, said the Scottish Green Party member’s plans “would diminish support available to women and unfairly restrict free expression”.
Spokeswoman for the group Hannah McNicol argued: “Scots have every right to offer support to women considering an abortion, including beside healthcare settings.”
She also said: “Censorship zones would end one important means of signposting support to vulnerable women who have nowhere else to turn.”