Introduce buffer zones around clinics that provide abortion services

Petition details
Introduce buffer zones around clinics that provide abortion services
The Back Off Chalmers Campaign wants 150m buffer zones around clinics that provide abortion services in Edinburgh. We are petitioning Edinburgh City Council to call on Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, to introduce buffer zone legislation to protect women, transmen and non-binary people in Edinburgh from harassment outside hospitals and clinics.
Anti-choice activity directed at individuals threatens their right to privacy and right to access legal, essential medical services. Patients have reported feeling intimidated and harassed as they try to access medical care in confidence, and that tactics such as praying, rosaries, and medically incorrect leaflets make them feel pressured when accessing abortion and other sexual health services. Women not accessing abortion care are also targeted - with one woman with a pram being told ‘she hadn’t killed her baby so why would she support abortion’, and another being told she would die of cancer for having an abortion in the past.
Both sites that provide abortion services in Edinburgh are targeted by protesters - there is no way for abortion patients to avoid them. Current law does not give the police the power to stop this harassment. This isn’t a question of stopping these people sharing their view on abortion - it’s about saying that the entrance to the clinic or hospital is not the place to do it.
We need new legislation to protect the rights of people to access legal, essential medical care without fear of harassment, alarm and distress.
Petition Status
Petition closed
Reason for status
The petition was discussed at the Policy and Sustainability Committee on 23 February 2021
Petition submitted by (Business or Individual)
Name of petitioner
Miss E Cheney
Opening date
6 November 2020
Closing date
9 January 2021
Total signatories
Petition Outcome
Decisions of the Policy and Sustainability Committee on 23 February 2021:
• Committee notes the petition as set out in Appendix 1.
• Committee further notes the work and engagement already carried out on this issue locally, as set out in the report, following approval of a motion by Councillor Miller.
• Committee notes with concern that a majority of women attending the clinic feel uncomfortable when being confronted with protesters when accessing medical care.
• Committee notes that COSLA is aware of the issue and acknowledges that a national and collaborative partnership approach is required to make progress.
• Committee agrees that the Council Leader write to COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson to seek a COSLA mandate from Councils for the Scottish Government to use any required statutory instruments to implement buffer zones at all clinics across Scotland and mandates the Leader to engage with the Scottish Government and write to Scottish ministers and COSLA as required to support that aim.