Buffer zones: no justification for harassment

There is no justification for harassing people outside hospitals or health centres.

There can never be any justification for intimidating and harassing people outside medical centres, says Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay.

Ms Mackay’s comments follow committee scrutiny of her bill to create 200 metre safe access zones, or ‘buffer zones’, to stop anti-choice campaigners from targeting hospitals or other abortion service providers.

This morning the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee heard evidence from opponents of the bill, which included comparisons between the protests outside hospitals and the Faslane Peace Camp or prayer services at memorial sites for road accidents or even 9/11.

Ms Mackay said: “Abortion rights are human rights. Unfortunately, some of the comments that have been made to the committee today show exactly why buffer zones are so vital.

"These protests are being held to intimidate people out of accessing healthcare. They cannot be compared to a peace camp or a memorial, and to do so is totally inappropriate.

“There can be no doubting the awful toll that these protests have on medical staff and patients. There is no justification for this kind of harassment and there never can be.

"The protesters have seen the evidence from my consultation and have heard the same testimonies I have. I urge them to think long and hard about what they are doing and the impact they are having."

Ms Mackay added: “We are finally on the verge of halting these protests for good. I am grateful to everyone who has helped us to get this far and am determined that my Bill will be one we can all be proud of.”