AN ANTI-ABORTION campaign group have launched a 40-day protest across Scotland outside health services which provide abortions.

The US-based anti-choice group, 40 Days for Life, announced they would be holding “prayer vigils” outside public entrances to medical facilities such as hospitals and sexual health centres.

The protest started on Tuesday and is expected to last until November 5.

Pro-choice campaigners across Scotland have expressed outrage at the group’s tactics, with many protests targeting facilities which offer other services in addition to providing abortions.

Back Off Scotland is a campaign group advocating for the right to harassment-free access to abortion services in Scotland.

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Lucy Grieve, co-founder of Back Off Scotland, said that the group hears from multiple women weekly who have faced harrassment whilst accessing legal abortion healthcare.

She said: “It’s been three years now that we’ve been pleading with the Scottish Government to bring in buffer zones around clinics providing abortion, yet here we are again.

“Scotland is now the only nation in the UK to not have passed legislation on buffer zones, and we still have to go through the entire parliamentary process in order to enact them here, meaning they’re likely a year off being implemented here.

“We are still hearing from multiple women weekly about the distress being caused whilst accessing legal abortion healthcare.

“It’s simply not good enough, and warm words from the government are of little comfort to the women who are running the gauntlet of these protestors everyday.

“We need buffer zones to be fast tracked through the Scottish Parliament now.”

The 40-day protest has also received criticism from MSPs, who have branded the protests “utterly wrong”.

Gillian Mackay MSP, the Scottish Greens health spokesperson, critcised the impact of the protests on service users and medical workers.

The MSP is attempting to introduce a bill to introduce buffer zones around centres which provide abortions.

The proposed legislation would introduce 150 meter no-protest zones around medical facilities which provide abortion healthcare services.

The bill has received cross-party support, including from First Minister Humza Yousaf.

Mackay (below) expressed hope that the bill would mean that the protestors’ “days of harassment are coming to an end”.

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She continued: “My heart, my support and my solidarity are with everyone who will have to face the gauntlet of protests and banners. You should not have had to go through it. My bill will ensure that nobody else has to.

“These protests are utterly wrong. They are designed to target, shame and intimidate people and to stop them from accessing the healthcare they are entitled to.

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"40 Days for Life and the other anti-choice campaigners who will be outside our hospitals know exactly what they are doing. They are all too aware of the impact they are having on service users and medical workers.

“Enough is enough. Their days of harassment are coming to an end. My bill will stop them for good.”

Scottish Conservative shadow deputy health secretary Tess White MSP said: “While we firmly support free speech, nobody should be subjected to abuse or intimidation for attending an abortion clinic.”

Planned “vigils” have been organised across Scotland, where participants are being asked to pray for those seeking abortion healthcare.

Whilst the only official campaign in Scotland listed on the 40 Days for Life website is at Chalmers Sexual Health Centre in Edinburgh, protests outside other medical facilities are to be expected.

For example, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow has already seen protestors outside the public entrance to the hospital on Monday (below).