Christian anti-abortion protesters swarm hospital amid calls for buffer zones

Members of an anti-abortion crowd protest outside of a hospital.

Anti-abortion protestors outside a Glasgow hospital were faced with hundreds of positive signs supporting reproductive rights, placed in the spot they regularly gather, as locals stood in solidarity with people accessing vital healthcare services.

Anti-abortion, “pro-life” protestors lined outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) on Sunday (2 April) to show their objection to reproductive healthcare.

According to local sources, the protestors have consistently returned to the spot for months, holding signs promoting anti-abortion rhetoric and conducting what they describe as a “prayer vigil”.

Local resident Beth Douglas told PinkNews that the protestors had been returning to the spot for “the last 40 days”.

“This happens every year just outside the maternity hospital providing healthcare,” she said.

“These people don’t live here, they are not local, they are just here to import hate.

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The group, which is linked to a campaign called 40 Days for Life, aims to prevent reproductive healthcare by “praying for an end to abortion” outside clinics providing care.

Anti-abortion protestors stand outside a local hospital.
The line of anti-abortion protestors grew as time went on. (Twitter)

In response, activists placed hundreds of supportive signs on a fence just outside of the protest spot promoting reproductive rights, including abortion healthcare.

Several of the signs read “not your body, not your business”, while messages condemning the protestors written in chalk on the pavement wrote: “Would Jesus stand here like a numpty?”

Others simply commended those seeking healthcare, telling them that “your best is enough” and that “bodily autonomy is sacred”.

As the day progressed, the crowd of anti-abortion protestors grew, with Douglas recording a 1-minute long video walking past the line of protestors.

She said that the silent protests were “nothing in comparison to the abuse patients and NHS workers get” when entering hospital grounds.

“The harassment of my neighbours, patients and NHS staff needs to end. We have a right to healthcare and body autonomy.”

Supportive signs on the fence outside Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. (Twitter/@pickle_bee)

Community radio presenter Gemma Clark, who also documented the protests, echoed the messages of pro-reproductive rights activists, saying that she believes the protestors “wish to cause distress to women and vulnerable people”.

Following a BBC Radio Scotland interview, she told PinkNews: “Many people have openly shared their trauma caused by being faced with anti-abortion protestors outside hospitals.

“These protestors simply do not care about the pain they inflict on patients. We know that women’s rights are being eroded more and more in America and other parts of the world.

“We need to ensure that our rights are protected in Scotland.”

Activists call for buffer zones outside of NHS hospitals

Groups have called for protest-free buffer zones outside NHS hospitals in order to prevent distress caused by the presence of anti-abortion protesters.

A law implementing buffer zones would prevent protests such as this from taking place outside hospitals providing reproductive healthcare, which activists have argued would reduce the harassment that people accessing vital services face.

The campaign group Back Off Scotland, which campaigns for buffer zones around clinics, urged newly appointed first minister Humza Yousaf to propose legislation as soon as possible.

“We must pick up pace as a matter of priority and fast track it through the Scottish Parliament to stop this once and for all,” Back Off Scotland wrote on Twitter in response to Sunday’s protest.

Beth Douglas agreed that Yousaf “has the opportunity” to prevent further harassment, adding that he “needs to protect” the staff and patients of QEUH and other clinics that provide abortion care.

Radio presenter Clarke also mentioned the “urgent” need for buffer zones, and said that Scotland “lags behind the rest of the UK” in its backing of the concept.

“We also need proper abortion education in Scotland,” she continued. “Anti-abortion groups who have been known to spread disinformation are visiting many of our schools every year.”

In a letter to Back Off Scotland, Yousaf said he “unequivocally” supports the implementation of buffer zones around clinics.

“Abortion services are healthcare,” he said.

“The right to an abortion as healthcare in our NHS, within specified term limits, should not be governed by criminal law.”