Gillian Mackay welcomes STUC support for buffer zones

The STUC has overwhelmingly passed a motion to support the introduction of safe access zones outside medical facilities that provide abortion services.

Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay has welcomed the Scottish Trades Union Congress’s support for her Bill to establish 150 metre safe access zones, or Buffer Zones, outside medical facilities that provide abortion care. This follows a vote at the STUC Congress.

The Bill has already received the support of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs and polling shows it is supported by the overwhelming majority of Scotland. Over 12,000 people filled in the Consultation about the Bill.

Commenting, Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay said:

“I am delighted that the STUC has supported the call for buffer zones. Nobody should be intimidated when accessing healthcare and it is vital that we build the biggest possible support for reproductive rights.

“Trade Unions are a vital part of our democracy and, like the STUC, I am committed to ensuring that my Bill does not impact on their ability to organise.

“The shameful anti-choice protests we have seen over recent weeks underline how vital it is that we pass this legislation. I have heard from a lot of service users and medical staff who have told me about the terrible impact that these so-called vigils have had.

“That is why I will be working with the STUC, the Scottish Government and others to ensure that we get a full robust ban in place as soon as possible.”

The motion, introduced by University College Union Scotland and supported by STUC.

“That this Congress notes that abortion is healthcare and a legal right in Scotland but that access to abortion services is not equally available to all. Congress believes that everyone should be able to access abortion services free from harassment and intimidation. Congress further notes that access to abortion services is a trade union issue as members require access to services and may also work providing this essential healthcare. 

“Congress commends the work of Gillian Mackay MSP introducing a Member’s Bill in the Scottish Parliament calling for the introduction of buffer zones outside healthcare settings offering abortion services. Congress supports the introduction of buffer zones to stop protests outside clinics, hospitals and facilities that provide abortion services. 

“Congress welcomes the level of engagement during consultation on the Bill including support from many trade unions, the BMA and Royal College of GPs; the Supreme Court’s decision on the Northern Ireland assembly’s competency to legislate; and the Scottish Government’s announcement that they will legislate to bring in national legislation on buffer zones. 

“Congress believes that the welcome restrictions brought in by a Bill should not extend to wider protests linked to industrial action by trade unions in pursuit of legitimate industrial disputes in health care settings. 

“Congress calls on the STUC General Council and affiliates to: 

  • support the introduction and passage of legislation on safe access zones around abortion clinics in Scotland; 
  • call for the introduction of legislation at the soonest practical date; and 
  • engage with the drafters of the Bill and MSPs to ensure that trade union activity be excluded from the scope of the Bill.

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