Glasgow ‘ready to pioneer’ protected spaces at abortion clinics

Glasgow is ‘ready to pioneer’ buffer zones outside abortion clinics, according to the council leader.

At an abortion summit in June, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish Government was looking for a council to test out bylaws which would create buffer zones around abortion clinics.

There have been protests outside both the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and the Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow, leading to concerns that women are feeling intimidated.

Now Glasgow council is set to test out these measures.

There have been vigils and protests outside clinics.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The council took a clear policy position on buffer zones back in 2018 – when the kind of action we are now seeing become an issue at Sandyford was very much anticipated, but not yet taking place.

"With cross-party support, we backed the creation of protected spaces around reproductive health care premises; in order to shield patients from intimidation and harassment.

"Since then, legal advice has been that councils do not have the necessary powers to make that happen – so I really welcome the fact the Scottish Government is ready to work with local government to overcome those barriers.

"Assuming that is possible, Glasgow would be ready to pioneer the approach in Scotland."

The summit came just days after the US Supreme Court struck down the Roe v Wade decision, transforming abortion rights in America and allowing individual states to ban the procedure.

Ms Sturgeon said a way to protect women from such harassment “in the short-term” would be to implement buffer zones via council bylaws.

But the First Minister acknowledged there would be complexities around making legislation stand up to legal scrutiny.

Legal advice obtained by council umbrella body COSLA last year had stated local authorities could not use bylaws to implement buffer zones at NHS reproductive health facilities.