• Compassion Scotland

Campaign led by women launched to oppose nationwide censorship zones

A new campaign led by women has been launched to oppose the introduction of nationwide censorship zones outside hospitals in Scotland.

Calls for the measures, which would make it a crime for women to offer support to other women outside these settings, have been growing in recent weeks.

On Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she will chair a roundtable “emergency summit” to draw up plans for so-called buffer zones to be established, despite the risk of legal challenges.

Hannah McNicol, spokeswoman for Compassion Scotland, commented:

“We are proud to represent women in Scotland who do not support nationwide censorship zones outside hospitals and as well as other settings. Our position has rarely featured in this debate, and that is deeply regrettable in a democratic society. We hope that the media and politicians in Scotland will give us a fair hearing.

"Women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve access to compassionate emotional and practical support, including outside medical settings. We know that many babies are alive today because their mothers did receive that unexpected help. With recent research suggesting 15% of abortions are the result of coercion, that support is even more critical.

"Everyone agrees that harassment is wrong, and existing laws catch threatening and abusive behaviour. But this is not what we see during 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.

"Censorship zones would prohibit peaceful, and often silent, gatherings in public places. Preventing the free assembly of women on public land and the exchange of information and ideas is undemocratic.

"We would encourage the Scottish Government not to take such a one-sided approach to this important issue. If they fail to listen, women will be denied choice, and access to life-saving support for them and their babies.”

No evidence of harassment

Freedom of Information requests reveal there were no recorded incidents of intimidation or harassment at thirteen different locations across Scotland between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2021.

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