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Women-led group reveals no evidence of harassment or intimidation outside a number of Scotland abortion providers

A campaign, launched to oppose the introduction of censorship zones outside hospitals proving abortions in Scotland, has released data from Police Scotland that shows that there is no evidence of harassment or intimidation at thirteen different locations performing abortions between 2016 and 2021.

While the Scottish Government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, has made its hostility to peaceful vigils and alternatives to abortion being available outside abortion clinics clear, the new women-led group, Compassion Scotland, has found no evidence of harassment or intimidation based on Freedom of Information requests to Police Scotland.

Claims of harassment and intimidation are frequently used as justification to introduce censorship zones, which are intended to make it a crime to offer support and alternatives to abortion within close proximity of an abortion clinic or hospital providing abortions. However, Compassion Scotland, has not found any evidence of harassment and intimidation.

“Women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve access to compassionate emotional and practical support”

Hannah McNicol, spokeswoman for Compassion Scotland, said: “We are proud to represent women in Scotland who do not support nationwide censorship zones outside hospitals and as well as other settings”.

“Women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve access to compassionate emotional and practical support, including outside medical settings. We know that many babies are alive today because their mothers did receive that unexpected help. With recent research suggesting 15% of abortions are the result of coercion, that support is even more critical”.

She went on to say: “Censorship zones would prohibit peaceful, and often silent, gatherings in public places. Preventing the free assembly of women on public land and the exchange of information and ideas is undemocratic”.

“We would encourage the Scottish Government not to take such a one-sided approach to this important issue. If they fail to listen, women will be denied choice, and access to life-saving support for them and their babies”.

Last month, the Belfast Health Trust admitted to massively inflating the numbers of incidents outside abortion clinics in the region. Their falsified evidence was submitted during an evidence session ahead of a Bill to introduce censorship zones in Northern Ireland.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “As Compassion Scotland rightly says, harassment is wrong and there already exist laws to prevent and punish such behaviour. Where harassment exists, such laws should be enforced. However, as their FOIs have shown, there are no recorded incidents of harassment over a six-year period at thirteen different locations performing abortions in Scotland”.

“It would seem that the campaign to introduce censorship zones is not based on evidence but rather ideology that seeks to deny women any alternative to abortion”.

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