The Scottish Government is planning to host a second summit on abortion as part of the First Minister’s crusade to introduce censorship zones in abortion centres across the region.
Following an abortion summit in June to which no pro-life organisations were invited, the Scottish Government, led by Nicola Sturgeon is planning an event for late August on how local authorities can introduce censorship zones around abortion clinics.
The Scottish Government wants to work with local authorities to use local regulations to prevent peaceful offers of help and alternatives to women seeking abortions.
An exact date has not yet been set and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and local authorities are involved in the planning, the Scottish Government said.
No evidence of harassment or intimidation
Sturgeon is especially calling on councils in Edinburgh and Glasgow to introduce censorship zones. She said:
“Glasgow and Edinburgh I would hope would be round that table, to look at whether one or both of them might be prepared, with the right support and backing from the government, to use the byelaw powers that they have”.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is planning a summit for late August. We are working with CoSLA and relevant local authorities to prepare for this”.
“This meeting will focus on the potential for using byelaw powers to address issues at particular sites in order to prevent patients or staff feeling harassed or intimidated by abortion vigils or protests”.
“The First Minister also proposed convening a further, broader summit on abortion rights around six months after the first abortion summit in June. This will be arranged after the Supreme Court judgment has been received in relation to the Northern Irish Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill”.
Two year jail sentence
Gillian Mackay, an MSP for the Green Party, has launched a Bill at Holyrood to introduce censorship zones outside abortion clinics in Scotland.
If the Bill becomes law, jail sentences of up to two years would be introduced for people who attempt to influence or persuade someone seeking an abortion inside censorship zones outside abortion clinics and hospitals offering abortion.
A Bill to introduce censorship zones outside abortion clinics in Northern Ireland was challenged by the attorney general of Northern Ireland on the grounds that it “disproportionately interferes” with the right to protest.
“The day that I turned up to my abortion appointment, a volunteer outside the clinic gave me a leaflet. It offered the help that I had been searching for…”
Prior to the Bill in Northern Ireland being voted through in March, Alina Dulgheriu, who was herself scheduled to have an abortion but decided to not go ahead with it after receiving help from pro-life volunteers outside an abortion clinic in London, said:
“The day that I turned up to my abortion appointment, a volunteer outside the clinic gave me a leaflet. It offered the help that I had been searching for. I weighed up the two options I had before me, and I chose motherhood. I chose to accept help to get housing, help to find a job and help to obtain a pram, a cot and nappies. It wasn’t easy. But with the support of the group who had given me that leaflet, I couldn’t be prouder of the life my daughter and I have charted out together”.
“[This] bill, designed to prevent us from hearing about offers of support to continue our pregnancies, will shut down options open to women who find themselves in crisis. Such legislation would have been detrimental to the course of my life”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “Once again, claims about harassment and intimidation are made, but not a shred of evidence is offered, other than that from campaigning groups that want to see ‘censorship zones’ introduce. In fact, when the women-led group Compassion Scotland made Freedom of Information Requests to Police Scotland, they found precisely zero evidence of harassment or intimidation outside abortion clinics”.
“Wherever harassment or intimidation occurs it can and should be dealt with under existing laws. The very fact that such laws have not been implemented is yet more evidence that the claimed increase in protests outside abortion clinics, even if it does exist, is not a form of harassment or intimidation”.
“Unless or until hard evidence is offered, the public should view claims about harassment and intimidation outside abortion centres with extreme scepticism. Rather, there is a concerted effort by certain politicians with a strong pro-abortion ideology to censor any public opposition or alternative to abortion”.