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Have your say on Bill to ensure safe access to abortion clinics

Green MSP Gillian Mackay is running a public consultation on her Private Member’s Bill which would implement 150m “buffer zones” around sexual health clinics so that anyone accessing abortion services is not subject to intimidation and distress from pro-life groups holding up upsetting images and shouting at them.

This Bill has cross-party backing and is likely to pass. Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has voiced strong support.

You don’t have to live in Scotland to respond to this consultation. Evidence of people’s experience from across the whole of the UK, or even internationally, is more than welcome.

Last night Engender, one of Scotland’s main feminist organisations, and Back Off Scotland, the campaign for buffer zones, held a joint meeting to discuss the consultation.

Catherine Murphy, Engender’s new Executive Director who has years of experience fighting for sexual and reproductive rights, set the scene. She warned of anti gender equality actors spending hundreds of millions of pounds across Europe to undermine women’s rights to, amongst other things, sexual and reproductive healthcare.

She described the US overturning Roe vs Wade as a “horrendous violation of rights”

There was, however, hope with increasing global momentum for change. Decriminalisation of abortion in Argentina had led to change in Mexico and Colombia.

She talked about the need for the debate on abortion to continue in a progressive way in Scotland. The more marginalised people are, the greater difficulty they tend to have in accessing abortion services.

She said that there still remains no legal right for a woman to end a pregnancy that she does not wish to continue. This has to be established by not one but two doctors. There are also examples of women being investigated by police on suspicion of carrying out illegal abortions if they have miscarriages or stillbirths. We need to work towards total decriminalisation.

Lucy Grieve from Back Off Scotland was next to speak. She and a friend set up the campaign when they were students after she witnessed pro lifers gathering outside an Edinburgh sexual health clinic during lockdown.

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

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