We are a group of women campaigning against the implementation of censorship zones around hospitals in Scotland.
Compassion Scotland emerged in 2022, in the face of renewed calls for the implementation of 150m censorship zones outside hospitals in Scotland. Censorship zones would prohibit the peaceful presence of people offering help and support to women who may want to hear about other options open to them and make an empowered choice. It would also make it a crime for women to support fellow women outside hospitals.
The Scottish Government has committed to finding ways to prevent these gatherings taking place and the Scottish Green Party are planning to bring forward a private members bill. In addition, the group “Back off Scotland” are campaigning for national legislation to create 150m censorship zones around hospitals in Scotland. It argues that the existence of these peaceful assemblies is targeted harassment and amounts, inherently, to intimidation.
Ultimately, we believe that every life is precious and women deserve access to as much help and support as possible before making a choice. Compassion isn't criminal.
for the rights of women and children
to ensure women can always know all of their options
to protect freedom of speech, assembly, thought and conscience
What's wrong with Censorship Zones?
Women have the right to a real choice
We know that women seek abortions for many reasons and can often be under immense pressure to do so - whether that be financial pressures or coercion from a partner or family member. If a woman feels she has no choice other than abortion then that is not real choice. The creation of censorship zones vilifies attempts to offer help and support to expectant mothers at what can often be a time of crisis.
Opportunities to support women having doubts are often limited and we believe that women deserve access to as much information and support as possible before making a decision.
Ultimately, the offer of support outside hospitals has been life-saving, for many mothers and babies. Recent polling from the BBC found at least 15% of women had experienced pressure to terminate a pregnancy when they didn't want to.
Censorship Zones are a violation of human rights
The creation of censorship zones would prohibit peaceful and often silent gatherings in public places. It would prevent individuals offering help and support to vulnerable women and their babies.
Preventing the free assembly of citizens on public land and the exchange of information and ideas is deadly to democracy. An inclusive society relies on the free exchange of ideas, opinions and viewpoints that others might find objectionable or offensive.
Censorship zones violate democratic principles and set an illiberal precedent of government-sponsored public censorship.
Compassion isn't criminal
Harassment and violence are wrong and should be tackled. The law has a role to play. However, strong laws already exist to punish such crimes. Under laws that already exist, behaving in a ‘threatening or abusive manner’ which causes ‘fear or alarm’ is already rightly a criminal offence. But that is not what we see at peaceful gatherings in Scotland.
Freedom of Information requests obtained by our campaign show there were no recorded incidents of intimidation or harassment at thirteen different locations between 2016 and 2021 – the most recent data available
Accusation should not be the basis of legislation or criminal prosecution. Instead, prosecutions should be based on true criminal activity backed by substantiated evidence of a crime.