Sturgeon: 'there are issues to solve' before introducing buffer zones
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said her government will try to introduce a blanket ban on protests outside abortion clinics, but in the meantime city councils should trial exclusion zones themselves.
Sturgeon held an emergency summit on the issue, at which she gave the Scottish government's backing to a member's bill protecting access to terminations.
However, the First Minister acknowledged that there would be complexities around making legislation stand up to legal scrutiny, and pledged her government’s support for any council that faced legal challenges.
The Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow and Chalmers Centre in Edinburgh have been targeted by increasingly noisy and visible anti-abortion protests, and there are fears the Supreme Court’s decision in the US to strike down Roe v Wade will further embolden them.
The First Minister said: “Gatherings of this kind create additional stress for anyone using these facilities, for any purpose, and for those who work in them. But for women accessing abortion services, the upset, distress and fear that they cause can be profound.
“At what is already a very stressful time, women are being forced to see or make their way past these groups on the way in. And once they’re inside, on top of everything else, there’s the knowledge that they may have to see them again on the way out.
“In my view, the current situation is unacceptable, and it’s one which we must address as a matter of urgency. I am determined that we do so. There are issues that we need to solve to establish buffer zones through legislation but if we work together in a spirit of solidarity, I am confident we can find a way.”
Back Off Scotland, a group which campaigns for buffer zones around healthcare clinics, said: “Everyone at today’s summit was in agreement - we need buffer zones. And we need to work together collaboratively to get there.
“Thank you Nicola Sturgeon for your support and commitment on this.”