Despite international outrage at the arrests of British pro-life advocates for praying silently on the sidewalk near abortion facilities, the Scottish government is considering legislation that could lead to even more arrests.
Scottish MP Gillian Mackay, of the Greens party, sponsored a buffer zone bill that would prohibit pro-lifers from demonstrating within 150 meters (about 492 feet) of an abortion facility in Scotland, according to the Catholic News Agency. The British Parliament is considering similar legislation.
Abortion activists claim pro-life advocates are intimidating abortion patients, even just by praying silently and holding signs offering pregnancy and parenting aid to families in need.
“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,” Michael Robinson, of Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told CNA.
This week, 40 Days for Life began across the world as a peaceful and compassionate daily outreach to mothers and fathers outside abortion facilities. One of the locations is Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, which Mackay slammed as “a 40-day gauntlet of harassment” in an interview with Sky News.
“It is utterly unacceptable and has no place in a modern and progressive Scotland,” Mackay said. “These protests are a disgraceful attempt to intimidate people out of accessing health care.”
But killing unborn babies is not health care, and 40 Days for Life is centered around compassionate and prayerful outreach to help mothers and save babies’ lives.
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Pro-life volunteers do not use graphic images or call people “murderers,” according to Glasgow 40 Days for Life. They are peaceful and law-abiding, not shouting or harassing, blocking entrances or making loud noises; they do not even approach patients but instead welcome women to come to them for help, the group said, according to CNA.
“I know the hospital in Glasgow very well and for anyone to suggest that the location where people stand to pray could in any way invade someone’s privacy or intimidate anyone is completely preposterous,” Robinson told CNA. “The vigil in Glasgow is 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.”
Earlier this week, The Daily Record published photos and a video of the Glasgow 40 Days for Life group, showing them praying and singing quietly on the sidewalk and, at times, smiling welcomingly toward passersby. The small group held signs offering help to pregnant mothers and counseling to those who already aborted their unborn babies. Their signs read, “Don’t be coerced into abortion,” and “Hurt by abortion? Talk to us about healing.” Another showed the image of an unborn baby sucking its thumb.
Despite their peaceful, life-saving efforts, the bill to block their outreach has support from much of the Scottish government, the British Medical Association in Scotland and the Royal College of GPs, according to CNA.
Currently, the British Parliament is debating similar legislation that would prohibit pro-life advocates from conducting peaceful outreach outside abortion facilities and hospitals that abort unborn babies in England.
Already, some cities in England have censorship ordinances, and a woman and a Catholic priest recently were arrested for silently praying outside abortion facilities in alleged violation of city laws.
In Scotland, aborting unborn babies is legal for any reason up to 24 weeks and, in cases of fetal abnormalities, up to birth.