FM to chair emergency abortion summit in wake of US rights overturn

Demands were made last month by campaigners and Scottish Labour MSP for a summit to be held.

Nicola Sturgeon to chair emergency abortion summit in wake of US Supreme Court Roe v Wade being overturned iStock
The summit will be held days after the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade decision.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to chair an emergency summit on abortion care and buffer zones in Scotland on Monday in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

Demands for an emergency summit on protest-free buffer zones were made by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon and more than a dozen organisations including campaign group Back Off Scotland, BPAS, and Rape Crisis Scotland, last month.

It followed concerns over a rise in anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and clinics across Scotland.

Monday’s summit will be held days after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v Wade decision, which legalised abortion in all 50 states.

The decision to permit abortions will now be on a state-by-state basis.

‘Lived experiences’ of women will be heard at a summit on abortion care and buffer zones in Scotland on Monday, campaign group Back Off Scotland have confirmed.

When the summit was announced originally in May, it was welcomed by campaigners and politicians, but on Thursday buffer zone campaign group Back Off Scotland claimed that the summit’s agenda offered “no allocated space for presentation from any of the signatories from Monica Lennon’s letter including us”.

Following Back Off Scotland’s announcement the Central Scotland MSP stated that “the voices of people with lived experience must be at the heart of all discussions.”

Back Off Scotland campaigners then announced on Friday that they were “extremely grateful” to have “now received confirmation” that they will have allocated time on Monday’s summit to speak.

In a statement on Twitter a spokeswoman for the group said: “We’ve now received confirmation that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has allocated time for us to speak at the summit. 

“We are extremely grateful to the FM for making space for us to share the lived experiences of women running the gauntlet.”

Following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade, a decision which has been in place for almost 50 years, cross-party politicians reacted.

Sturgeon tweeted: “One of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime. 

“Obviously the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US – but this will embolden anti-abortion and anti-women forces in other countries too. 

“Solidarity doesn’t feel enough right now – but it is necessary.”

Lennon added: “A devastating day for women in the US and around the world. 

“Our solidarity will be judged by our actions . Clinic harassment is a daily occurrence in Scotland. It cannot be tolerated. Monday’s summit on buffer zones and abortion is a huge test.”

Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay, who launched her private member’s bill to implement anti-abortion buffer zones outside hospitals and clinics last month wrote: “This will only stop safe abortions and put lives at risk. Solidarity to all those in the US. 

“Here we need to continue to fight for progress. That means buffer zones, telemedical abortion and services safe and accessible for all.”