Abortion clinic protesters 'moved on' by pro-choice campaigners

Pro-choice campaigners have said that they turned up to 'drown out' the noise of anti-abortion protesters.

Anti-abortion protesters ‘outnumbered’ and ‘moved on’ from Glasgow’s Sandyford clinic by pro-choice campaigners Back Off Scotland

Campaigners have said they felt forced to ‘move on’ anti-abortion protesters from a Glasgow clinic on Tuesday over fears patients were being harassed. 

Two men stood outside the Sandyford clinic with one displaying a placard referring to “murder” and the other appearing to preach through a speaker system. 

Pro-choice campaigners said they turned up to “drown out their noise,” which resulted in them leaving the scene after being “outnumbered.”

Equality activist Beth Douglas, 28, said it is the third time she has had to organise a “counter protest” in response to their presence at the abortion clinic. 

And she accused the police of not taking action and claimed one of the protesters appeared to have a camera for filming footage.

Ms Douglas said: “On all three occasions we have managed to outnumber them and we do what we can to drown out their noise with camp music, pro-choice chants and more.”

She said their behaviour leads to the harassment of women and claims it is a “breach of the peace” and “the police are still to take action.”

Ms Douglas said on three occasions counter protesters have caused the men to move. 

She pointed out Sandyford offers a range of medical care including “HIV services, contraceptive services, menopause services, rape counselling and trans healthcare” among others.

She said people going to Sandyford “may feel vulnerable already” and don’t need protesters “outside to make it worse.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police were made aware of a pre-planned protest that was to take place outside a clinic in Sandyford Place, Glasgow around 11 am on Tuesday, 7 June, 2022.

 “No arrests were made and all involved have now left the location. 

“Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation that puts our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights at the heart of everything we do. We have a duty under the European Convention on Human Rights to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or counter protest balanced against the rights of the wider community.”

The Scottish Greens are urging people to sign a petition for buffer zones to be rolled out at abortion clinics so protesters cannot get near the facilities. 

Green MSP Gillian Mackay has launched a consultation on a proposed members bill for the introduction of the protest free zones 

Commenting on the Sandyford incident, Glasgow Green councillor Christy Mearns said: “I’m appalled that women and vulnerable people are being intimidated for accessing healthcare which is their right, at an extremely difficult time mentally and emotionally. “

Councillor Mearns said she will raise the issues with Police Scotland on what can be done to “better protect people attending” the clinic.

Michael Robinson, executive director of the  Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said the protest had not been organised by them, but argued the right to protest should be protected and said the call for buffer zones was ‘disproportionate’.

He said: “Pro-life vigils are peaceful, community-based gatherings which simply seek to offer support and options to vulnerable women who may feel pressured or coerced into an abortion.  

 “SPUC does not host or facilitate any pro-life vigil, but we are happy to support pro-lifers who wish to attend to offer help.  

 “The scene which has taken place outside the Sandyford is not a pro-life vigil, this is a protest. In Scotland, the democratic right to protest is a liberty which is treasured and should be protected.”

He added: “Buffer zones are a disproportionate response to what is happening in Scotland. 

“A buffer zone would act as a serious infringement on democratic rights and would also block women from accessing information and support.”

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