Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has committed to chairing a summit, run by abortion campaigners, on making it a criminal offence to offer support to women outside abortion clinics.
Following the promptings of 15 pro-abortion groups, who signed a letter asking the Scottish Government to introduce censorship zones around abortion clinics in Scotland, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, promised she would chair a roundtable discussion on the matter.
The letter claimed that pro-life vigils had reached a “critical point” and an “emergency summit” was needed.
Replying to Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who asked if the Government would participate in such a summit, Sturgeon said: “I am very happy to convene and indeed I will personally chair a roundtable summit to discuss buffer zones…”
She added that legislation to introduce buffer zones must be “effective and also capable of withstanding legal challenge”.
Sturgeon also said that the Government would support local councils who wanted to use bylaws to prevent protests outside clinics.
“I strongly support the introduction of buffer zones and the government is actively considering how this parliament can legislate”.
She called for pro-life advocates to protest outside the Scottish Parliament rather than holding vigils outside abortion clinics.
During the same First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Sturgeon was asked whether the 24-week limit would be reviewed since science had advanced since 1990 and babies are born and able to survive before the abortion limit.
Sturgeon answered: “No—that would not be on the agenda of the summit that I have agreed to convene. I do not support a reduction in the current time limit for abortion”.
Clare Murphy, chief executive of the abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, welcomed the commitment from the First Minister.
The announcement comes at a time when ‘DIY’ home abortions have just become a permanent feature of the law in Scotland. Initially introduced as part of the Government’s pandemic response, they were intended to be temporary.
Yesterday, the women’s health minister, Maree Todd said that the ‘DIY’ home abortions would become a standard aspect of abortion provision in Scotland.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The Scottish Government is preparing a full assault on the right of pro-life advocates to peacefully assemble and offer women alternatives to abortion. If there is genuine harassment, it should be stopped and there already exists legislation to prevent it”.
“However, there is a distinct lack of evidence that suggests women are being harassed outside abortion clinics across the UK. There is so little evidence, in fact, that the Belfast Health Trust had to invent incidents out of thin air when giving evidence for the introduction of similar censorship zones”.
“Sturgeon’s stubborn refusal to review the current time limit on abortion is an indication of her ideological thinking on this matter. She is not even willing to consider the changes in medical science since the 24-week limit was set in 1990. This is despite the fact that babies in Scotland are known to have been born at 22 weeks and have gone on to survive”.