CAMPAIGNERS have warned there is a “deeply unsettling” precedent being set in Liz Truss’s new Cabinet when it comes to abortion rights.

Over the last few months, there have been several anti-abortion protests in Scotland outside clinics where women go to access care.

As a devolved issue, Scotland has control over its own abortion laws – but concerns have been raised over the newly appointed Health Secretary's approach to the issue south of the Border.

Therese Coffey, who also serves as deputy prime minister, has previously voted against making at-home abortion pills in England and Wales permanently legal.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has warned that Coffey's record on the issue is "deeply concerning", accusing the minister of putting personal beliefs" above expert clinical guidance".

READ MORE: Liz Truss is trying to block Scotland's Gender Recognition Act reforms

Scotland's rent freeze is drawing attention from across the globe 

The co-founder of buffer zone campaign group Back Off Scotland Lucy Grieve told The National: “Therese Coffey has consistently voted against upholding abortion access throughout the UK, a scary reality given that she is now Health Secretary of a country where one in three women will have an abortion during their life.

“The new Health Secretary is free to have her own beliefs personally, but these beliefs are in direct opposition to leading medical bodies like the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and it’s a worry that such views could now shape policy making.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has convened two summits on the implementation of buffer zones in Scotland, which would create a 150-metre zone around clinics where protests wouldn't be allowed.

Both the BMA and Royal College of GPs backed the idea, which was originally proposed by Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon is also a vocal supporter of the bill and said the appointment of Coffey in the current climate raised “fresh concerns” surrounding abortion rights.

READ MORE: Extend free school meals to all pupils urgently, Scottish Government told

She also called on Truss and Sturgeon to work together on ensuring that everybody could access care without fear of harassment.

Speaking to The National, Lennon said: “When women’s reproductive rights are being undermined by anti-choice movements, the appointment of Therese Coffey raises fresh concerns for the future provision of abortion healthcare.

“As we’ve seen in Scotland with the escalation of harassment at abortion clinics, there can be no room for complacency.

“This is an issue that Liz Truss and Nicola Sturgeon can and should co-operate on. While we still have women and girls travelling from Scotland to England for abortions, we can’t shrug our shoulders or indulge in point-scoring.

“The alternative to safe and legal abortion care puts the lives of women and girls at risk.”

Back Off Scotland also expressed concern about the appointment of Suella Braverman.

In 2019, the new Home Secretary voted against the extension of abortion rights in Northern Ireland.

Grieve said the appointments of Coffey and Braverman were reasons to be “thankful” for the Scottish Government's commitment to "protecting reproductive rights".

Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Coffey said she would not be looking to “undo” abortion laws. 

She said: “I am conscious that I have voted against abortion laws. What I will say is I am a complete democrat, and that is done, so it’s not that I’m seeking to undo any aspects of abortion laws.”

This year, the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade ruling which effectively ended the right to abortion for millions of women. 

Mackay told The National: “Abortion rights are human rights. They are healthcare. 

“In Scotland, the Government has rightly allowed at-home medical abortions to continue and has announced its support for my bill to create buffer zones to stop campaigners from targeting medical facilities that provide abortion services. 

“These are rights that everyone in the UK should have. 

“As the recent moves to curb reproductive rights in the US show, our progress can be fragile and we should seek to protect and advance it at every stage.”

Braverman's office has been contacted for comment.