A Bill which threatens basic civil liberties has been lodged in the Scottish Parliament.
Gillian Mackay’s proposal to ban prayer and offers of help around abortion facilities will now be considered by the Parliament and has already drawn support from First Minister Humza Yousaf.
The proposals could see people criminalised for simply simply occupying a so-called “buffer zone” near an abortion clinic. Chillingly, it could establish zones in Scotland where prayer is illegal.
Fr Jeremy Milne, Archdiocesan Vicar Episcopal for Marriage and Families said the bill “poses a significant threat to civil liberties by curtailing the freedom of a person to pray in public. The State will be designating public areas in which it is prohibited, indeed criminal, to pray.”
He added that the bill “denies the opportunity for women who reluctantly seek abortion due to coercion by persons or circumstance to receive last moment offers of help".
"Many women have testified to the value of this in their own lives. Given that both the mental and emotional wellbeing of the mother and the life of an unborn human being are at stake, the denial of this opportunity is totally unacceptable.”
Peaceful and prayerful
Paul Atkin, Pro-Life Officer at the Archdiocese said: "For years, Police Scotland and NHS Boards have confirmed they have no records of any harassment and that vigils are peaceful and prayerful. In fact, the Police chose not to respond to the Bill’s consultation.
— RC Politics (@rcpoliticsuk) June 16, 2023
"If there was really a problem at Scottish abortion centres the Police and NHS Boards would be expected to have something to say, but they have presented no evidence.”
He added: “The Bill harms women from poorest parts of Scotland who suffer abortion rates twice as high as those in wealthy areas.
"Banning practical support and offers of help will, ironically, leave women feeling that abortion is their only 'choice.' This is wrong.
SPUC's Margaret Akers presents the case against buffer zones on @STVNews this evening.
This comes on a day when MSPs from across the political spectrum signed a petition in Holyrood voicing their support for what they term 'Safe Access Zones'. pic.twitter.com/FVbHyeZIHd
— SPUC Pro-Life (@spucprolife) June 15, 2023
"We call on Gillian Mackay to be pro-all-choices and give real and practical support to women in unexpected pregnancy situations rather than criminalising peaceful people who are providing much needed help and kindness.”
He added: "In reality, Gillian Mackay's Bill supports a campaign by multi-million pound abortion providers with concerning safety records.
"BPAS, which carried out over 90,000 abortions last year, was found to have supplied abortion drugs to a woman who aborted her baby at 32 - 34 weeks. They have no mandate to speak about women's health or safety."
Atkin noted that Mackay had removed 3,367 pro-life responses from some of the consultation results.
He said “It is disappointing that Gillian Mackay wants to ignore the views of thousands of individuals who opposed her bill online.
“It is not surprising - the aim of this extreme measure appears to be to stop Christians peacefully taking part in public life.
“Gillian Mackay’s complaint that members of the public submitted their responses using the same website show that she is out of touch with modern digital communications methods used by many lobby organisations.”