Anti-abortion protests Scotland: We want buffer zones and we need them now

As journalists and politicians rush to comment on the next independence poll in Scotland, an important poll concerning women’s rights could be overlooked.

"I remember looking at this image of a dead baby,” are words that have stayed with me after speaking to Megan, a woman who had an abortion due to a foetal abnormality and was targeted by anti-abortion protests.

On Sunday, an exclusive poll from The Scotsman showed the Scottish public stood by Megan and countless other women going through abortions – a legal right for women in this country.

The poll revealed more than two thirds of Scots support the introduction of buffer zones around abortion clinics to protect women from protests.

Strong backing for the zones which are currently being looked into by the Scottish Government has been consistent.

In March, a poll by survation found 72 per cent of people are in favour of buffer zones and a similar poll commissioned by the humanist society last year also showed very strong support for the zones.

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Whilst support for zones and abortion care has been clear, across the world we are still waiting for women’s access to healthcare and public opinion on such issues to be respected.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a summit on abortion care held at Hilton Edinburgh Carlton hotel (Photo: Lesley Martin/PA Wire).

In a poll for Marquette Law School in January, 72 per cent of respondents opposed the Roe v Wade ruling – protecting abortion healthcare in many American states – being overturned.

However, there is hope of political movement on protecting women’s rights to healthcare access here in Scotland.

At the recent Abortion Care Summit the First Minister convened last week, politicians across the political divide agreed with the implementation of such zones.

The Scottish Government is looking into short-term solutions such as implementing zones via bylaws in “test councils” as Nicola Sturgeon said she is ready to “dig into” a legal battle to get a nation-wide buffer zone law. We need this to be the case as women are continuing to suffer.

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As our political landscape is set to brace a wave of toxic debates around independence (from both sides) that has the potential to overwhelm our media, let’s make sure women’s rights are not forgotten about.

The people, politicians and medical experts have spoken: we want buffer zones and we need them now.

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