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(LifeSiteNews) – A British pro-life organization is calling on the public to make their voices heard in the fight against censorious restrictions on pro-life vigils outside of abortion clinics in Scotland.

A proposal to introduce so-called “buffer zones” around abortion mills in Scotland, which would criminalize pro-life activities such as prayerful vigils around abortion facilities, has been making its way through the Scottish Parliament.

A public consultation has been launched on the bill to bring in buffer zones, proposed by Gillian MacKay, MSP, and which has found support from some of the most prominent voices in Scottish politics, including the nation’s socialist First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Indeed, Sturgeon lamented to a pro-abortion summit in Edinburgh last month that “women are being forced to see or make their way past [pro-life] groups” as they approach abortion centers. “In my view, the current situation is unacceptable, and it’s one which we must address as a matter of urgency. I am determined that we do so,” she stated.

The summit followed on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which saw the issue of making abortion illegal returned to the state level. Of the landmark June 24 decision, Sturgeon said it was “one of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime.”

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According to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the world’s oldest pro-life organization, should the proposed bill become law, “anyone taking part in a pro-life vigil in Scotland would be subject to a 6-month jail sentence for a first offence, and up to 2 years in prison for subsequent breaches.”

In comments to LifeSiteNews, SPUC executive director of public affairs and legal services Michael Robinson noted that while “abortion stirs up strong opinions for many reasons, not least that ending a human life is extremely grave, the reality is that we now know that many women are coerced into having abortions.”

“Those who turn up near to the locations where abortions are carried out, to offer prayer and help, do so with the greatest compassion and sensitivity,” he continued.

Regarding the nature of pro-life vigils in Scotland, Robinson said: “I know the hospital in Glasgow very well and for anyone to suggest that the location where people stand to pray could in anyway invade someone’s privacy or intimidate anyone, is completely preposterous. They are many hundreds of yards from any entrance to the buildings and they cannot even see who is entering the hospital building from where they are positioned.”

The pro-life spokesman explained that, rather than seek to intimidate, “what such vigils do is offer a last glimmer of support for women who need somewhere else to turn when they have otherwise been made to feel abortion is their only option. It is troubling that when it comes to pro-life issues, basic human rights are to be trampled on. The intolerant ideologues pushing for ‘buffer zones’ seem only to support freedoms for those who agree with them. The efforts in this instance are clearly aimed at removing people’s right to assembly. That is completely at odds with basic civil liberties and is completely neglectful of women who want an alternative to abortion.”

“It is important that as many people as possible respond to this consulta­tion and help protect women and children from abortion by defending pro-life vigils in Scotland.”

Leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill, QC, told the Christian Institute that “buffer zones” unlawfully restrict free speech and the freedom to assemble, and may breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

“There is no doubt that the creation of buffer zones which seek to exclude protests or people assembling in otherwise public spaces in principle engages the protesters’ human rights,” he said, including “Article 9 freedom of thought, conscience and religion … Article 10, freedom of expression” and “Article 11, freedom of association and of assembly.”

Therefore, SPUC wrote that “it is important that as many people as possible respond to this consultation.”

The consultation is running until August 11, prompting SPUC to urge completion of questionnaires “as soon as you can and encourage others to do the same.”

The group has produced a guide to help respondents answer the questions included in the consultation survey.

Responses can be made by clicking here.

Help open a crisis pregnancy center in Scotland: LifeFunder

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