Maree Todd says she takes doctors' concerns 'very seriously' as she responds to anti abortion buffer zones letter

The women’s health minister has said she will arrange a meeting with doctors as she replied to a letter signed by 76 consultants in Scotland demanding “urgent action” be taken around anti-abortion protest buffer zones.

Maree Todd MSP said she was “dismayed” to hear about the anti-abortion protests happening outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, which saw over 100 anti-choice protesters gather outside.

She spoke as Nicola Sturgeon stressed she did not think protests should be allowed outside hospitals.

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Campaigners and doctors have urged the Scottish Government, the First Minister and Ms Todd to implement buffer zones around abortion providers to protect women accessing healthcare.

Maree Todd MSP has said she is taking concerns around anti-abortion protests 'very seriously' as she responds to doctors' letter (Photo: Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail).

Last month 76 doctors, including leader signatory Dr Greg Irwin, signed a letter calling on Ms Todd to “show courage” and introduce protest free ‘buffer zones’ across all clinics providing abortion care in Scotland.

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Responding to the letter, Ms Todd said she took the concerns raised by the doctors “very seriously”, adding she was “committed to finding a permanent solution that will address them”.

A draft member’s bill on buffer zones brought forward by Green MSP Gillian Mackay is expected to be published by mid this month. However, this could take more than a year to implement.

Ms Todd said she would be “very happy to discuss this further” and had asked her office to arrange a meeting with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Dr Irwin has welcomed the minister’s letter, but is “begging” her to take urgent action.

Campaign group Back Off Scotland has urged Ms Todd to enact emergency legislation as it is understood a draft letter advocating an ‘emergency summit’ around abortion buffer zones is to be sent to the minister next week.

Ms Sturgeon separately said she wanted to make progress around anti-abortion buffer zones “as quickly as possible”.

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"For those who take a very different view on abortion to me – I am very passionately pro-choice and always have been – it is entirely legitimate for people to take the opposite view and it is entirely legitimate for people to protest against abortion,” she said.

"My message would be if you want to protest against abortion, come here to Parliament and do it where the laws are made."

It comes as the architect of the UK’s abortion laws intervened in the row , insisting “busybodies have no right to pressurise women” who are seeking to end a pregnancy.

During his time as a Liberal MP, David Steel introduced the Private Member’s Bill which made abortion legal in the UK.

Lord Steel, the former Liberal Party leader who went on to become the first Presiding Officer at the Scottish Parliament, stressed those who “oppose abortion in principle should have their views respected”.

He was also clear that “nobody should be pressured into undertaking abortion if they are opposed to it”.

But he insisted: “Equally, busybodies have no right to pressurise women who wish to do so.”

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The rise in anti-abortion protests in Scotland comes as leaked legal documents suggest the US Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case in America that legalised abortion nationwide.

If the top US court strikes down the ruling, "trigger laws" could instantly make abortion illegal in 22 US states.



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