HomeNewsMajority of Scots don't back nationwide buffer zones

Majority of Scots don’t back nationwide buffer zones

A HOLYROOD consultation on buffer zones has shown that 77% of respondents oppose the introduction of them in Scotland, this comes as the Gillian McKay MSP’s bill moves through the Scottish Parliament.

Less than a third of the population in Scotland support the introduction of nationwide buffer zones around abortion clinics – polling data from Savanta ComRes shows, it was undertaken for the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee.

Green Party MSP Gillian Mackay introduced the bill last year, and has been backed by cross party committee members.

It would mean that those that attend pro-life vigils must stand 200m away from clinics, or face an unlimited fine. There have been some controversies surrounding silent prayer, and whether this will be considered under the bill.

This is when there is no interaction between the protesters and patients, instead they sit in silence and observe a prayer in front of the said clinic.

Bishop John Keenan told a committee of MSP’s: “If you’re criminalising silent prayer, you’re criminalising people’s thoughts.”

Silent prayer vigils are similar to the protests and vigils outside Faslane – and intruding on silent prayer can have an impact on anti-nuclear protesters too. That is according to Bishop John Keenan who has previously said: “We could take places where location has been important like Faslane. For years there was a peace camp there just outside the nuclear facility. It was important for them they were at Faslane.

“Similarly with Dungavel detention centre, my predecessor often went along to the protests outside Dungavel, because presence is important.

“When they were there it concentrated minds about what was happening inside in terms of giving rights and dignity to asylum seekers.

“I think this question about being there in terms of pro-life vigils has implications for Faslane and Dungavel. The same reasoning that could apply to these pro life vigils can very easily, just change the context slightly, can apply against those who are for peace.”

There is no evidence of people being harassed or curtailed as they enter clinics, Peter Kearney of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, said to Sancta Familia.

He also noted that Police Scotland hasn’t responded to the consultation, which suggests “that there is not a public order issue to be solved”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson, said: “This Committee has totally ignored the overwhelming opposition to this Bill and instead is supporting the introduction of the world’s most extreme buffer zone law in Scotland.

“This is a truly draconian piece of legislation that reaches into the homes of ordinary people. It creates an offence for being publicly pro-life.”

A total of 5,858 submissions were made to the consultation. When asked “Do you agree with the overall purpose of this Bill?”, of the responses to this question a total of 4,517 (77.13 per cent) disagreed; 1,288 (21.9 per cent) agreed; and less than one per cent partially agreed or responded “don’t know”. (Full calculations and sources for these figures are available here).

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