Campaigners denounce 'disgusting' 40-day anti-abortion protest

Campaigners have criticised a “disgusting” anti-abortion protest outside Scottish maternity hospitals.

The protest, which marks the 40 days of Lent, is expected to continue until April 10.

Small groups of protesters have been seen holding placards outside the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.

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Campaign group Back Off Scotland labelled the actions “disgusting”.

Anti-abortion protesters at the QEUH maternity ward last weekend. Picture: Back Off ScotlandAnti-abortion protesters at the QEUH maternity ward last weekend. Picture: Back Off Scotland
Anti-abortion protesters at the QEUH maternity ward last weekend. Picture: Back Off Scotland

Co-founder of the group Lucy Grieve said this protest, which usually occurs twice a year in Autumn and around Lent, “seems like a massive resurgence”.

She said: “[There is] an everyday presence at the maternity hospital in Aberdeen, the Glasgow Royal Infirmary – where most of the time the women going there are ending wanted pregnancies that have foetal abnormalities which makes it particularly inappropriate – and also the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.”

The group continues to campaign for 150m buffer zones around abortion clinics where groups are not allowed to protest.

“We support the idea that people have different thoughts and view, it's not about the morality of abortion here,” Ms Grieve said.

Anti-abortion protesters at the QEUH.Anti-abortion protesters at the QEUH.
Anti-abortion protesters at the QEUH.
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“It's about people being allowed to access healthcare safely and freely, and exercise their legal right to do so.

“This is creating a tangible barrier to access. It’s the responsibility of the government to ensure that people can access these legal and essential medical and essential medical services.”

Opposition MSPs have supported the group’s calls.

"Women accessing abortion healthcare should be able to do so safely, free from intimidation or harassment,” Labour MSP Monica Lennon tweeted in response to the Lent protest.

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"[The Scottish Government] needs to step up and introduce national legislation on buffer zones at abortion healthcare.”

Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Women seeking intimate medical care should not have to cross a picket line in order to do so. This is why we need #bufferzones.”

In a debate about proposed buffer zones last year, women’s health minister Maree Todd said the rights of access to healthcare should be balanced with rights to protest, and the Scottish Government “doesn’t consider that imposing a blanket buffer zone around all abortion clinics is appropriate”.

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