We formed the Back Off Scotland campaign to petition the Scottish Government to introduce 150 metre buffer zones around clinics that provide abortion services in Scotland. For many years, patients seeking abortion services across Scotland have faced intimidation and harassment from protesters when accessing sexual and reproductive health services.
The right to privacy and right to access legal, essential medical services should be protected, not threatened by anti-choice activity. New legislation is needed urgently to keep people safe from protestors, especially as access to sexual and reproductive medical services becomes more uncertain due to the pandemic.
Laws already in place are not enough. The police do not have the powers to prevent this harassment. With the creation of 150m buffer zones (safe areas where any kind of harassment or protesting is forbidden) people will be safer when seeking medical care. This is not about preventing freedom of speech or silencing either side of a debate. It's about ensuring people’s right to seek medical care, free from intimidation. It's about keeping medical matters of an individual between them and their medical professional.
“They were saying prayers, engaging, making me feel guilty, uncomfortable, intimidated – like a sinner because they asked my religion. They made me question my decision, but I came back anyway.”
— A woman seeking an abortion, who recently encountered the demonstrators at a clinic via The Independent