MSPs are being called upon to make sure this is the final year of "disgraceful" anti-choice protests outside facilities providing abortions in Scotland.

A group of 11 protesters were pictured outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) entrance in Glasgow last week, with 40 days of demonstrations now due to start across Scotland. 

The protests, which are coordinated by 40 Days For Life - a Texas-based anti-choice organisation -  will begin on Wednesday and keep going until March 24.

Green MSP Gillian Mackay, who has introduced a members bill that will stop anti-choice groups from protesting within 200m of abortion service providers, said these demonstrations show why her buffer zone legislation is so crucial.

The bill is set to start its stage one process through Holyrood this month.

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Mackay said: “These protests are utterly shameful. Nobody should have to face down a sea of graphic placards and banners in order to get to a hospital. 

“It is targeted intimidation and harassment, and it is being done in order to stop people from accessing the healthcare they are entitled to. It underlines exactly why buffer zones are so crucial. 

“I hope that all MSPs support my bill and that we can make this the year that we stop the protests for good.

“I have spoken to so many service users and hospital staff who have told me about their experiences and the awful impact these protests have had on them.. My heart and solidarity goes out to everyone who has had to endure them. 

“Abortion rights are human rights, and they are non-negotiable. I don’t want this to be a country where people are afraid to access healthcare. I hope 2024 can be the year that changes.”

Mackay has already received cross-party support for her bill with more than 70 MSPs, including the First Minister Humza Yousaf, backing her campaign.

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

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The Abortion Services Safe Access Zones (Scotland) Bill would stop anyone from protesting against abortion within 200 metres of a facility providing services and anyone 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.