Pro-life groups have condemned Scotland’s plans for the biggest abortion clinic buffer zones in the world. They will be at least 200 metres long and able to be extended without limit.
The Abortion Services Safe Access Zones (Scotland) Bill will impose the “safe access” zones around all abortion clinics and other facilities where abortions are performed. Abortion providers will be able to apply to extend the 200 metre parameter as the legislation gives the Scottish government the power to do so if they believe that existing limits “do not adequately protect” women attending the facilities.
The proposed laws will criminalise pro-life advocacy outside clinics. Christian Today reports it will be illegal to approach women with offers of assistance or information. Silent prayer may also be banned despite some prosecutions against it being dropped n England. Even pro-life signs will be outlawed on private property. Offenders will face unlimited fines.
Right to Life UK warned that if the legislation becomes law, Scotland will become home to the world’s most extreme buffer zone. Spokesperson Catherine Robinson called the legislation “draconian” and said that existing laws should be used to address any harassment or intimidation outside abortion clinics:
“Many women have been helped outside abortion clinics by pro-life volunteers who have provided them with practical support, which made it clear to them that they had another option other than going through with the abortion. The proposed law change would mean that the vital practical support provided by volunteers outside abortion clinics will be removed for women and many more lives would likely be lost to abortion,” she explained.
“This is a truly draconian piece of legislation that reaches into the homes of ordinary people. It creates an offence for being publicly pro-life. It is direct viewpoint discrimination. No one else is penalised for hanging the flag of their favorite football team from their window, or having a Vote Labour sign, but if an individual or a church wants to display a sign from within their own property which says Pregnant? We can help, they may be guilty of violating this buffer zone legislation,” Ms. Robinson asserted.
“This legislation is not only a direct attack on free expression and public association based on viewpoint, it is entirely unnecessary insofar as harassment and intimidation are already illegal. Wherever they occur, existing legislation can and should be used to put a stop to them,” she added.
Michael Veitch, Scottish policy officer for Christian charity CARE said: “We are concerned that this bill is based on an objectively false narrative that access to abortions in Scotland is being impeded. Terminations are occurring at record numbers, and dangerous ‘home abortion’ rules remain in place. The buffer zones debate has diverted public attention away from issues such as disability abortion, advances in technology that improve viability, moves to reduce abortions, and wider discussions about the drivers of abortion in Scotland.”
Christian Today writes: “The legislation is being introduced despite recent polling showing that less than a third of Scots (30%) support the introduction of nationwide buffer zones around abortion clinics.”