CAMPAIGNERS have told of their “frustration” as a fresh round of anti-abortion protests begins outside of a Scottish hospital – while the buffer zones bill makes its way through Holyrood.

A group of eleven protesters were pictured outside of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) entrance in Glasgow on Wednesday, a sight activists said was “sad to see”.

Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay’s incoming legislation would ban the protests from outside of sites where abortion healthcare is provided and was laid in the Scottish Parliament in October last year.

READ MORE: What is a 'buffer zone' and what could a ban on anti-abortion protests look like?

But evangelical group 40 Days for Life is set for another marathon round of protests outside of the QEUH, set to begin officially on February 14 and end on March 24.

The protests first began in January 2016, after 40 Days picketed the QEUH, and there have been further “prayer vigils” held outside of other healthcare clinics across Scotland.

The Abortion Services Safe Access Zones (Scotland) Bill will ban these protests within 200 meters of any abortion clinic, and any person who breaches this could face a fine.

Holyrood’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee has previously issued two calls for evidence on the legislation, with the latest ending on December 20, 2023.

The National:

The current timetable on the committee’s webpage states that Stage 1 considerations, before it heads to the chamber for debate, must be concluded by May 3, 2024.

“It’s obviously really frustrating to see another round of protests and that this clearly isn’t going away any time soon,” Back Off Scotland co-founder Alice Murray told The National.

“Every time that we have another round of protests we say the same thing, that this will be the last one and the bill will be in place soon, but I think realistically it’s very frustrating that while the bill is a great thing and it’s now actually reaching parliament and should be hopefully passed very soon.”

READ MORE: Ipsos poll: Support for independence sitting at 53 per cent

Murray (below, right) said she believed this wouldn’t be the last round of protests before the legislation comes into force.

She added: “I think we won't have legislation in place before the next round in October so that’s frustrating as well, but the main thing is the whole point of the campaign was to protect patients and through the whole three years we’ve seen consistently more and more patients and healthcare workers come to us with new stories.

“I imagine the next 40 days will be much the same.

“It’s really sad to see, and I hope that this is at least the last year this is allowed to go on.”

The National:

Mackay told The National: "These awful protests show exactly why buffer zones are so vital. 

"Nobody should have to face placards and banners like this when accessing healthcare. The protesters know exactly what they are doing and the impact that they are having.

"Reproductive rights are human rights, and my heart and solidarity is with all of the service users and staff who are having to endure this harassment and intimidation. 

READ MORE: PMQs: Rishi Sunak makes trans jibe in front of Brianna Ghey's mum

"These protests have gone on for far too long, and my bill will end them for good."

We told how a majority of MSPs backed Mackay's initial proposal to introduce buffer zones last year, with little opposition expected within the chamber.

Campaigners also raised fears that the wording of the legislation could allow ministers in a future government to reduce the size of the zones if they chose to do so.