Scotland’s Extreme Abortion Buffer Zone Bill
Scotland is considering a new abortion buffer zone law that surpasses neighboring England and Wales’ Public Order Act (2023).
While the latter sets buffer zones at 150 meters and does not allow extensions, Scotland’s proposed law could take a more extreme approach.
Banning Influence on Abortion Decisions
Under this proposed law, it would be illegal to attempt to influence a woman who is contemplating an abortion, which could even extend to criminalizing silent prayer near abortion clinics.
Buffer Zones Around Residential Buildings
One notable aspect of this legislation is its application to “residential buildings” within the buffer zone. This means that residents may not be allowed to display pro-life materials, such as posters, in their windows without facing significant fines.
On summary conviction, individuals could be fined £10,000 (over $12,000), and on indictment, the fine could be unlimited.
Criticism and Concerns
Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right to Life UK, raised serious concerns about this bill, dubbing it as potentially the “world’s most extreme buffer zone law.”
She emphasized that it goes beyond any buffer zone laws in other jurisdictions, creating a larger buffer zone than anywhere else in the world and granting the Scottish government the power to extend these zones without a defined limit.
Impact on Pregnant Women and Practical Help
Robinson expressed worries that the legislation could deprive pregnant women in need of practical assistance.
She also highlighted the potential for more lives to be lost due to the restrictive nature of the law.
Polling data from Savanta ComRes revealed that only 30% of the Scottish population supports the introduction of nationwide buffer zones around abortion clinics.