Westminster has been urged to follow Holyrood’s lead and bring in legislation to create “buffer zones” around abortion centres.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) made the plea after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her government would support efforts to introduce the zones, preventing anti-abortion protesters from gathering.
Green MSP Gillian Mackay has already brought forward plans for a member’s bill at Holyrood to create the zones, with a consultation having taken place.
Ms Sturgeon has now confirmed her government “will work with Gillian Mackay and MSPs across the chamber to safeguard the access of women to abortion services without harassment or intimidation”.
We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to protecting women’s access to abortion care free from harassment. This is a significant step forward, but it is woefully overdue. @backoffscotland @NicolaSturgeon @GillianMacMSP pic.twitter.com/tESZji2Z2B
— BPAS (@BPAS1968) September 6, 2022
Clare Murphy, chief executive of BPAS, said this was a “significant step forward” but was also “woefully overdue”.
Ms Murphy said: “Over the last year, we have seen a significant escalation in protest activity both in Scotland and the rest of Great Britain, and it is incredibly disappointing that the respective governments have still not taken any action.”
She added: “We will work with the Scottish Government and Parliament in the coming year to ensure that meaningful measures are enacted as a matter of priority, and that any proposals address the needs of both women and abortion providers.
“Legislation to establish buffer zones around abortion clinics are a simple solution to a national problem.
“We urge the new government in Westminster to follow the lead set by Nicola Sturgeon and pledge to address the intimidation of women and healthcare staff seeking to access and provide a safe, legal NHS-funded healthcare service.”