'Landmark moment for reproductive rights' as buffer zones bill scrutiny begins

The sessions will include evidence from Gillian Mackay as well as medical experts and opponents of the Bill.

A Scottish Government committee is to begin taking evidence on a bill to establish buffer zones at abortion clinics from Tuesday in a “key step for reproductive rights in Scotland”.

The sessions are the first stage of parliamentary scrutiny for the Bill, which will create 200m safe access zones to prevent pro-life campaign groups from protesting outside abortion service providers.

The evidence sessions will be held by the Scottish Government’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee.

The first session will take evidence from supporters of the Bill, including campaign group Back Off Scotland and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay hailed the evidence sessions on her safe access zones Bill as a “key step for reproductive rights in Scotland”.

She said: “This session will mark the start of parliamentary scrutiny for my Bill. It is a landmark moment for the legislation and for reproductive rights in Scotland.

“So many people have endured totally unacceptable harassment from protesters. I am really keen that it is their experience which is at the heart of the process and that shapes our response, to ensure that nobody else has to go through what they have.

“These awful protests have become a regular sight outside our hospitals and medical centres. My Bill is about ensuring that everyone can access the healthcare they are entitled to without having to endure a gauntlet of intimidation.”

There will be four evidence sessions over the next month, which will include evidence from the MSP as well as medical experts and opponents of the Bill.

Mackay added: “It’s been a long journey to get to this point, with thousands of people taking part in my consultation and lots of people sharing very painful stories and memories. It is because of the courage they have shown and the support they have provided that we are so close to making buffer zones a reality.

“The next four weeks of evidence will be crucial in ensuring that we have the most robust legislation possible. I am grateful to all of the pro-choice campaigners and medical experts who will be giving up their time to help the process.”

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