HomeNews'It criminalises prayer' Buffer zone legislation passes in Scotland

‘It criminalises prayer’ Buffer zone legislation passes in Scotland

NEW legislation to introduce buffer zones has passed the Scottish Parliament – and will move forward for royal assent.

The law will prevent pro-life vigils from taking place within 200 metres of the 30 hospitals and medical facilities across Scotland where terminations are carried out.

This comes as we have previously reported that a majority of Scots don’t back nationwide buffer zones.

The Church has criticised the bill as it criminalises “audible prayer” and “silent vigils.” Anthony Horan, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office (CPO) warns it would even criminalise certain actions in private homes.

The “safe access zone” includes not only the facility – usually a hospital – in which abortions are performed, but also land within 200 meters (a little over 650 feet) of the edge of the protected premises. The proposed law says the 200 meters may be extended by the Scottish government following an application by the relevant Health Board or health provider.

“Crucially, there is no upper limit on the size of ‘buffer zone’ the government can create,” the CPO says.

Meanwhile the Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson, said: “[MSP’s have] 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.”

Gillian Mackay, the Green MSP who promoted the bill, said: “This is for women and medical professionals who have endured protests amid disgraceful scenes in the past while accessing health care, and for all those who may need to go do so in the future.

“It also carves into history the work and support of others including Back Off Scotland, health organisations and unions including the STUC Women’s Committee, BPAS, and so many more, and trailblazing Irish Green Clare Bailey.

“Without their determination, support and courage that day may never have come. The fact that it has is a testament to all of those MSPs who voted for it to pass, the work of Scottish Government officials, and the importance of this parliament. 

“They all deserve our thanks.”

The final stage of the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill was debated on Wednesday afternoon, with 11 amendments considered.

The bill was agreed by 118 votes to one.

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