Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon has urged the Scottish Government not to fall asleep at the wheel, following the First Minister’s recent summit on abortion healthcare.
The Scottish Labour and Co-operative representative has been calling for the introduction of buffer zones to protect women accessing sexual health and abortion services in the wake of escalating protests around clinics and hospitals.
Nicola Sturgeon agreed to host the summit after receiving a letter from Monica and more than a dozen organisations, including Back Off Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland, calling for her urgent intervention on attacks on abortion rights.
Following the summit – held in Edinburgh on June 27 – Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would need to find a ‘national legislative solution’ to the issue.
Monica, who is the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Women’s Health, has also appealed to the public to take part in a national consultation on buffer zone proposals, which would create a 150 metre safe access area around the perimeter of hospitals.
Monica said: “The continued harassment and intimidation of women outside healthcare facilities is having a terrible impact and needs to be stopped.
“Anti-choice campaigners have become more emboldened with orchestrated gatherings taking place on a regular basis in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“I’m concerned their activities are only going to become more widespread, and following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v Wade it’s becoming clearer that abortion rights are under attack.
“This harassment is having an impact on my constituents from Lanarkshire and Falkirk, including those accessing specialist services at Glasgow’s Sandyford clinic.
“It is also taking its toll on healthcare workers who have been filmed and shouted at.
“I was pleased to be invited by the First Minister to attend the summit, and on the whole, found it was a positive and constructive meeting.
“The First Minister listened to representatives from third sector organisations, local government, the police, NHS and campaigners, as well as members from across the parties, and promised she would look at short and long-term actions.
“However, the Scottish Government must now not be allowed to fall asleep at the wheel on this issue.
“And that’s why Gillian Mackay MSP’s Bill to implement buffer zones at clinics and hospitals across Scotland is needed to guarantee safe access.
“I encourage people to have their say and respond to the consultation before it closes on 11 August.
“This is not about silencing people with anti-choice views; it’s about making sure the privacy of individuals accessing healthcare is respected.
“No one should face harassment or intimidation when seeking confidential medical care.
“The Scottish Government must do all it can to support the Bill and make sure it progresses at pace.”