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Minister visits staff at clinic amid increase in anti-abortion protests

Women’s minister Maree Todd visited staff at Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow (PA)
Women’s minister Maree Todd visited staff at Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow (PA)

Staff at health facilities providing abortion care have the right to do their job without “fear or intimidation”, the women’s health minister has said.

Maree Todd visited the Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow on Thursday following an increase in the number of anti-abortion protests outside healthcare facilities across Scotland.

She spoke with staff who had to “work in the shadow” of recent protests.

Public health minister Maree Todd
Maree Todd visited staff at the Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow following recent anti-abortion protests (PA)

Ms Todd said: “I spoke to staff at Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow who have had to work in the shadow of two recent protests and heard from them and also staff at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital about the damaging impact it can have.”

The minister urged protesters to instead demonstrate outside Parliament, where legislation is passed.

On Wednesday, campaign group Back Off Scotland shared videos of further protests outside the Sandyford Clinic.

They said staff inside had to blast music in order to “drown out” protesters, claiming patients receiving healthcare inside were distressed.

Consultant Greg Irwin, who works at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, took a video of a protest outside the grounds of the hospital. He said: “This is what you are faced with as you come in the entrance to my hospital.

“You are accessing your healthcare to which you have a legal right.

“You are forced to run the gauntlet of these demonstrations.

“This is outrageous. All we ask is for these demonstrations to be moved up the street.

“We would be very grateful if you would consider introducing buffer zones outside all the hospitals in Scotland with urgency.”

Green MSP Gillian Mackay last week launched consultation on a Bill she is introducing to establish a 150-metre buffer zone outside of clinics and medical facilities that provide abortions.

Ms Todd added: “We strongly support the introduction of buffer zones, welcome Gillian Mackay MSP’s Bill consultation and will continue to explore how the Scottish Parliament can legislate in a way that is effective and capable of withstanding legal challenge.

Next month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will chair an emergency summit on buffer zones.

The Scottish Government supports the introduction of buffer zones within legal limits.

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