Roe vs Wade: Abortion rights campaigners gather in Edinburgh as pressure mounts over buffer zones in Scotland

Abortion rights campaigners gathered at the US consulate in Edinburgh on Saturday to protest the potential overturning of Roe vs Wade, as pressure mounts on the Scottish Government to introduce buffer zones around reproductive health centres in Scotland.

By Elsa Maishman
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 5:53 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th May 2022, 6:33 pm

Campaigners and opposition MSPs urged Nicola Sturgeon to take “action not words” in support of abortion rights, ahead of her visit to the US this week.

Ms Sturgeon has said she will “make clear” her support of women’s right to choose during her trip, while the Scottish Government said she is set to discuss equality and women’s health issues during meetings with a number of congressional caucuses on Thursday.

Green MSP Gillian Mackay will begin the process of introducing a members bill to the Scottish Parliament on the issue of buffer zones in Scotland next week, she told the gathering on Saturday.

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Nicola Sturgeon has said she “strongly” supports calls for these zones to be set up, and has vowed to personally chair an emergency summit to discuss their implementation.

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"I hope that while the First Minister is in the US she will convey the strength of feeling here in Scotland and our solidarity to all those in America facing the rolling back of their rights,” said Ms Mackay.

Ms Lennon said the Scottish Government has so far been “slow” to act over buffer zones, and called for “action not words”.

Denise Christie, a firefighter and member of the Fire Brigades Union, said reproductive rights are a trade union issue.

She said: “What’s happening in America is deeply worrying, but we also have to take a stand about what’s happening in Scotland, where abortion rights are under attack.”

The protest was organised by Dr Lyndsay Jaacks, 34, an American living in Edinburgh.

She said: “When the news was leaked about Roe vs Wade I just felt so helpless, and I wanted to organise this as a place for people, not just Americans, who were really concerned about what this meant for abortion rights here in Scotland.”

Denise Christie, a firefighter and member of the Fire Brigades Union, said while she was attending the protest in a personal capacity abortion is a trade union issue.

About 100 people attended the event. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

"What’s happening in America and right across the world is very, very regressive,” she said.

"We need to take a stand and show women right across the world that we stand as one. An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Lucy Hunter, 55, from Edinburgh, said she believes older women should stand up for the rights of younger ones.

“Abortion is one of the most fundamental rights that women need to be able to have choice and control over their lives,” she said.

Campaigner Beth Douglas speaks while Heather Herbert holds the megaphone. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

“It is shocking to think that there are women in America now who are afraid that they are losing that control.”

Ann Henderson, from Abortion Rights Scotland, spoke to the crowd.

“We should trust women, the decision is theirs to make,” she said.

“In Scotland we come together to fight for services and to ensure that services are free from harassment, and to make sure the NHS delivers these services,” she said.

Beth Douglas, another campaigner who spoke at the event, said: “Between Roe vs Wade in America and the Scottish Government’s hesitation to introduce buffer zones here in Scotland, we can safely say the very concept of bodily autonomy is beginning to crumble, and the religious right is becoming more powerful.

Lucy Hunter Blackburn, 55, a protester from Edinburgh, said older women want to defend the rights of younger ones.