INCREASED security is being put in place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre ahead of the staging of a controversial conference on abortion.
Pro-life activists and the Catholic Church have announced plans to demonstrate against the International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Associates (FIAPAC) Congress in the EICC this weekend.
The last meeting of FIAPAC in Seville two years ago saw protests from pro-life activists.
The latest two-day conference, entitled Unwanted Pregnancy — A Fact of Life, has drawn criticism from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland, whose members will stage a protest on Lothian Road this Saturday.
More than 150 activists bearing placards will form a chain along the main route used by delegates to attend the event.
The “Silent No More” demonstration will also feature women who have undergone and now regret their abortions and who will recount their own experiences to passers-by.
In its current newsletter, St Mary’s RC Cathedral includes a notice calling on each of its parishioners to “give up two hours of your time” to join the protest on Lothian Road.
Police and council officials are now making plans ahead of the demonstration.
A police spokeswoman said: “We are aware of both the EICC conference and the protest on Lothian Road this weekend – the organisers have formally applied to the council for approval. As always, we will provide a proportionate policing response to both.
“In relation to the protest, we will respect and facilitate the right for peaceful protest whilst ensuring that there is no disorder or disruption to the city.”
An EICC spokesperson said: “Security is always of paramount importance for any event held at EICC.”
Delegates will be welcomed by Donald Henderson, the Scottish Government’s head of public health policy.
Items planned for discussion by FIAPAC conference speakers include the issue of conscientious objection, the legalisation of late-term abortions and the widening of access to abortions and all forms of contraception.
Protest co-ordinator and SPUC post-abortion counsellor Margaret Cuthill said: “In a society that pushes abortion as a solution for women with no consideration of the resulting impact, it is difficult to speak about regretting that choice because your voice is drowned out by those who think any opposition is an attack on women’s rights.
“It is this frustration that has led us post-abortive women to the campaign. Women deserve better than abortion.”
The conference comes in the wake of comments by Health Secretary Alex Neil, who said his personal view was that the 24-week limit for terminating pregnancies should be reduced.