FSRH consultation response: Proposals to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics in Scotland

Posted 17 August 2022

Date: 17 Aug 2022

Type: FSRH News and Information

We have responded to a consultation launched by Gillian Mackay MSP regarding legislative proposals to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics in Scotland. The proposed Bill would ban protest activity within a 150-metre radius of clinics providing abortion care in Scotland.

In our response, we focus on the need for women to be able to access – and staff to be able to provide – healthcare free of harassment and intimidation. National legislation to implement buffer zones is the only effective solution to protect women and staff in Scotland.

Further to the recent Summit organised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss buffer zones in Scotland, which we attended, we hope the Scottish Government acts on this opportunity to protect women’s rights to health, physical integrity, non-discrimination and privacy when accessing abortion care.

Key points in FSRH’s response:

  • We have serious concerns over the ongoing intimidation and harassment of patients and staff outside facilities providing abortion care in Scotland. We have, for several years, supported proposals to establish buffer zones outside facilities providing these services across the UK.
  • Current legislation is not providing adequate protection of women and staff from worsening intimidation and abuse. Even seemingly innocuous behaviour such as handing out leaflets has a negative impact – causing distress and confusion to women seeking abortion care.
  • We support the introduction of buffer zones around all sites that provide abortion care in Scotland, within which it would be unlawful to influence or attempt to influence a person from accessing, providing, or facilitating the provision of abortion care. We support a standard 150-metre radius around health facilities providing care, with the stipulation that individual facilities can apply to change this radius if needed for their circumstances.
  • National legislation to implement buffer Zones is the only effective solution. We hope that members of Scottish Parliament will listen to the arguments in favour of the proposals set out and work to implement buffer zones as a matter of urgency.

You can read our response in full here.

More information on the consultation is available here.

You can read our Position Statement on Buffer Zones around Abortion Clinics here.