Anti-abortion protestors stage action underneath signs of support from pro-choice Glaswegians

A group of anti-abortion protestors staged their action outside Queen Elizabeth University Hospital today (4 October) underneath messages of support from pro-choice Glaswegians.

A group of pro-choice Glaswegians have posted banners of support for patients outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital , where anti-abortion protestors usually stage their action.

The hospital in Glasgow is a frequent point for protestors, with groups arriving once a week to voice their disapproval to passing pedestrians, motorists, and patients arriving at the hospital.

Patients of the maternity ward are often challenged by protestors signs that ask patients to reconsider their healthcare - in language that has been branded as ‘coercive’ and ‘ignorant’ by pro-choice organisations like Back off Scotland.

While abortion is legal in Scottish healthcare, protesting abortion is not, and pro-choice charities are campaigning for ‘buffer zones’ to be put around hospitals to push back the anti-abortion protestors.

Some of the signs created by pro-choice Glaswegians to support those seeking healthcare at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

One volunteer at the hospital, Claire S Duffy, often saw the protestors while showing up for shifts at Queen Elizabeth and was frustrated by the protest, so she decided to stage her own action.

Claire S Duffy said: “I really wanted to do something about the protests outside the hospital, I had to see them all the time - and I found this sight of cruelty and lack of compassion to be really upsetting.

“And I’m only a volunteer, I can only think about how stressed it makes staff who have been working throughout the entire pandemic feel.

“I really wanted to do something, but it’s no use challenging them. I could never change their minds, and in the end I just wanted to undo a little bit of harm that they do.”

Claire continued:”I wanted to make posters that expressed love and support for the people having to drive past the protestors.

“I knew they would be back on Tuesday, so I had to get the banners completed over the weekend and posted for Monday night.

“I asked the Pro-choice Scotland Facebook group for help and a few incredible women gave up their weekend to make the posters.

“I think that most people believe in bodily autonomy and a patients right to seek any healthcare they need to, but we don’t feel the need to wave banners outside hospitals about it.

“That makes it very easy to feel quite isolated when you’re faced by these protestors while seeking healthcare - at least with the posters people can see that other people do support, trust and respect them.

“To me it’s not a question about debating bodily autonomy or free speech, it’s about stopping protests from harassing or intimidating people going into hospitals on, quite possibly, the worst day of their life.”

Protestors attended the site today (4 October) to stage their anti-abortion action, but did so under the banners created by the pro-choicers.

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.