A CAMPAIGNER has said she “strongly” believes the buffer zones bill will survive any legal challenge as anti-abortion activists accused the Scottish Government of “bigotry”.

Alice Murray, one of the founders of Back Off Scotland which launched the campaign to introduce no protest zones outside of healthcare clinics, told the BBC that the upcoming legislation, expected to be published by the end of the parliamentary term, is “proportionate to the issue”.

It comes as Shawn Carney, the co-founder of evangelical anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life, who are behind the protests outside of clinics, accused the Scottish Government of “bigotry against its own citizens”.

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Following Carney’s interview on the BBC Sunday Show, where he rejected that protesters were harassing women accessing health services, he claimed that the legislation is an “attack on free speech”.

Murray (pictured below) told the programme that there is “every chance” there will be a legal challenge when the Abortion Services Safe Access Zones Bill is passed and comes into force.

“But at the end of the day, we should be entitled to challenge legislation,” she said.

“We need to make sure that we live in a society that we are abiding to the convention rights, and I feel really strongly and the Scottish Government, I believe now, feels really strongly that we'll pass that legal challenge because we've made sure that this bill is proportionate to the issue.

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“We've been looking at this issue for over three years and we've collected hundreds of testimonies of patients saying that they either can't go to the clinic or they have and they've been really traumatised by this issue.

“We have huge staff support, we had 76 consultants sign an open letter to say that they want this bill and so I think as long as we have backed up this issue, I have no kind of worries about that.”

Earlier, Carney had claimed that the legislation has “nothing to do with abortion or freedom of choice” and claimed it was an attack on free speech.

“I went to Scotland in 2017 when 40 Days for Life was invited to go into your beautiful country, and there was no issue, and even the Guardian reported that this was peaceful and had been peaceful in England and it's been peaceful in Scotland,” he said.

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“This is simply a government that has created a bigotry towards a group of their own citizens, because of their opinion on abortion.”

When BBC journalist Martin Geissler pointed out that the legislation has cross-party support in Holyrood and it is “massively popular”, Carney said: “So we're not defending the minority anymore in Scotland?”

He added: “So because more people support abortion, we're going to move the people who are pro-life because we don't like their opinions.

“I think that's a very dangerous mentality and it's the exact mentality that many in your country are calling into question.”

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Carney (pictured above) also claimed the Scottish Government was “using polls” to “pick on” the minority.

When it was put to Carney that many women found the pro-life protesters, who target hospitals and clinics with placards and signs with anti-abortion messaging, intimidating, he insisted that was not the responsibility of the Christian organisation.

“We hear this stuff all the time, it’s not our responsibility of how someone else feels, nor is it the responsibility of every government or any business to control the feelings of another,” he said.

“I understand that if you think that way that you would see this as an attack,” Murray said, when asked about Carney’s claims.

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“However, I think that even throughout the campaign, there's been some people who are in the anti-abortion movement who said whilst we don't agree with abortion, when we live in a country that legally provides it, we should be protecting health care so, not really.

“And you know it's really hard to kind of see that point of view.”

Murray also refuted the allegation that the legislation is an attack on free speech and insisted it was about simply moving the protests “away from the clinic door”.

She added: “I'm so happy for 40 days for life to give their message if that's what they believe we do need to protect freedom of speech in that way.

“But freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are qualified convention rights.

“They're not entitled to an audience. You're not entitled to say whatever you want, whenever you want.

“All that we ask is that people don't stand outside of a clinic and act as a bar to healthcare.

“I think really, it definitely is a compromise. I think that we're being really fair on this. All we really care about is patients actually being able to step into that clinic door.”