Scotland's abortion clinic protests: As a victim of child abuse, I'm appalled by these demonstrations by people who don't know women's individual circumstances – Hayley Matthews

Alice Murray experienced harassment outside the Chalmers Street clinic in EdinburghAlice Murray experienced harassment outside the Chalmers Street clinic in Edinburgh
Alice Murray experienced harassment outside the Chalmers Street clinic in Edinburgh
As I read about a Texas-based anti-abortion organisation’s six-week ‘prayer vigil’ outside clinics across Scotland, it stirred something in me.

I've been lucky enough to never be in a situation that has warranted seeking an abortion. As someone told at the age of 16 they couldn't have children, when I finally fell pregnant, it was the most joyful moment of my life.

But I could have found myself in a very different situation after being abused by a young man who used to stay over at our house. I could have easily been pregnant, needing an abortion, as a pre-teen child, had the offender been even more persistent.

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I'm so proud of how I handled that situation as a young girl saying "NO" to him. The only person I told was my mum. Her reaction was to not say anything and shut it down. I think it was too painful for her to comprehend as a woman who'd had two abortions when she was younger. I never mentioned it to her again.

So as I sat pondering all the different situations that girls and women find themselves in when making the tough choice to have an abortion, it sent me deep in thought.

Many of these women will have been abused, attacked, drug-raped or they may have not planned to fall pregnant with a fourth child. Everyone's situation is different but the decision, I can imagine, is the toughest one they'll ever have to make.

The women who are being harassed outside the clinics like Alice Murray – featured in the News this week – have my full support.

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Alice, who was shouted at outside the Chalmers Street clinic, told of how she feels sick that women could be put off accessing healthcare by the presence of protesters.

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These demonstrators don't know each individual’s situation, casting harsh judgment and being vile to women doing what they believe is the best decision for them.

With the protesters often coming from a religious background, it makes no sense to me how they can be so judgmental. Just because others are making decisions that you don't agree with, doesn't necessarily mean they’re the wrong decisions. It's all about choice! Personal choice!

What do these protesters hope to achieve? That a woman will change her mind, only to find herself raising a child with little or no support, no security? If it feels right for the woman then the decision is theirs and theirs only, not the protesters’. Where will they be when these women need support after the baby is born? Will they be there to help the mothers through a difficult time? I doubt it.

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So I have absolutely no time for these protesters who are judging and damming women who are already in a very tough spot. As my favourite saying goes: “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Those judging these women for making the decisions they've made, I just hope they never find themselves on the receiving end of a difficult decision whilst being publicly lambasted for doing so!

I believe that their time would be much better spent educating young men and boys on how to treat women, how making a child is their responsibility too and that when a woman says "NO" – that's final!

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