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Bill to create buffer zones to stop anti-abortion groups protesting outside medical facilities backed by north MSP

By Gordon Calder

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A NORTH MSP has given her backing to a bill which would create buffer zones to stop anti-abortion groups from protesting outside medical centres.

Ariane Burgess, the Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has welcomed the publication of the bill to introduce safe access zones. The proposal comes from her party colleague Gillian Mackay.

The bill would stop anti-abortion protests from taking place within 200 metres of medical facilities and would be would be the highest minimum limit anywhere in the UK.

The plans includes extension powers to allow health boards or ministers to apply to have the size of a zone extended. It would also allow for a substantial fine for people who breach it.

Ms Burgess said: "This is a really important bill that will stop the intimidation and harassment by anti-choice protests like the ones that we have seen outside medical facilities across Scotland.

"These protests have been painful and traumatic for many who have had to face them."

Ariane Burgess backs the buffer zones plan
Ariane Burgess backs the buffer zones plan

"Abortion rights are healthcare, and nobody should ever have to face a gauntlet of graphic banners and judgment when accessing healthcare. But that has been a reality for far too many people in the Highlands and Islands, many of whom have already had to travel considerable distances and are away from their support networks when receiving treatment.

"We can put a stop to it. Buffer zones have been proven to work, and the protections that Gillian’s bill is proposing will make a big difference."

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