"I experienced anti-choice protestors first-hand when I found out I was pregnant at 20 years old and attended Chalmers Clinic Edinburgh to seek an abortion. There were roughly seven protestors all standing on one side of the street, meaning they were impossible to ignore. I attended the clinic alone and felt targeted by the protestors.
My memories around walking into the clinic are blurred and I believe this is due to the fear felt from their presence, leaving me to feel non-present. During both of my appointments, I was comforted by the high standard of
care delivered from clinic staff. They talked me through my options and made sure that I knew an abortion was not my only option. This made me feel even more angry at the protestors outside, who claim they are letting clinic users know ‘the other side’.
When I left the clinic, I felt anxious and scared at the thought of facing protestors again but knew I had no option."
"I went into hospital first thing in the morning and was faced with a group of protestors holding up placards. They remained there seven hours later when I left the clinic. My privacy and safety were threatened, and it was a deeply intimidating experience.
Implementation of a buffer zone would have meant that I felt safe. You would think safety isn't much to ask for but here we are. Imposing opinion on a personal matter, when not asked for, and occupying of space in this context are aggressive acts.
The unit outside which the protestors were gathered when I attended Queen Elizabeth University Hospital provides a number of services associated with gynaecology and maternity. Buffer zones would prevent the infliction of this harassment on people accessing a host of services, and on the staff. Each person who walks into the unit, whatever service they are accessing or job they are doing, deserves to do so without the presence of anti-choice protests."
"Abortion is a part of reproductive healthcare, and people have a legal right to abortion under the Abortion Act. The decision to have an abortion is a private one, between the pregnant person and the staff providing care.
For people accessing abortion care, and the staff providing it, the presence of anti-choice activists at the entrance to clinics and hospitals is distressing and is a form of emotional harassment. The language and images used on some placards is upsetting and offensive, not just to those accessing abortion care, but also to those who have experienced pregnancy loss in the past.
These anti-choice protestors will further traumatise those who may be making a difficult decision, perhaps on a background of rape, gender-based violence, or medical grounds. Whilst abortion care providers recognise the right to protest, this should not be at clinical sites, where individual patients and staff are harassed and intimidated."
“I was a victim of sexual assault and had to book an appointment with Chalmers. Already blaming myself, and terrified to tell anyone, I was 17, and completely by myself. A small group of individuals, mostly male, were standing on the other side of the road. I was repeatedly called out to by one of the men, and when I glared at him and ignored him, he called me a ‘teenage murderer’. I have never been pregnant, I have never had an abortion, and I’ve never even used a contraceptive medication – but they tried to publicly humiliate me for it. I felt threatened and terrified, in a time when I needed protection and comfort.”
- Chalmers Centre, May 2021
“While walking with my baby in the pram, I passed one protester standing on the pavement outside centre. She tried to hand me a leaflet which clearly had anti-abortion messaging... I spoke to her about what she was doing... She looked into my baby’s pram and said ‘but there’s a reason you didn’t want to murder your own baby’. I walked away and she shouted after me ‘You are a hypocrite. You knew she was a baby and you knew she was in your womb. Would you kill her too?’
- Chalmers Centre, February 2020
“They were standing opposite the entrance to the maternity wing of the hospital with banners and placards, singing hymns and swaying. Every time I’ve attended this hospital in 2019 they have been there.”
- QEUH, Glasgow, October 2019
“They were chanting, praying loudly, showing photos of foetuses, giving out leaflets, and approaching women and couples entering the clinic. They were telling people that dead embryos go into vaccines.”
- Chalmers Centre, March 2019
“I felt incredibly angry... at the time I was pregnant with my second child. On attempting to engage with them, one of the group marched over to me and was extremely aggressive... he screamed in my face several times... he told me that I was going to get cancer (I had disclosed that I had an abortion between pregnancies)”
- Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 2017