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Glasgow City Council

Council to Consult on Protest Buffer Zones at Health Facilities

Published 28/6/18

Glasgow is to consult health officials, the police and the Scottish Govt on the creation of anti-abortion protest "buffer zones" outside hospitals & clinics.

Cross party support was given to a motion at Glasgow City Council to seek advice about legal powers which could be used to establish safe zones outside the city's NHS hospitals and sexual health facilities.

Councillor Elaine McSporran proposed a motion aimed at preventing protests directly outside health facilities which made women feel "harassed" and "intimidated" when attending for treatment.

The motion "noted with concern the escalation in demonstrations at NHS facilities, especially activity targeted at women and staff attending sexual and reproductive health services. Council further notes the distribution and display of misleading information and distressing images which can intimidate women and jeopardise access to legal healthcare services."

It accepted that people have a right to peaceful protest, but said it shouldn't interfere with women's fundamental rights to make individual reproductive choices or subject NHS professionals to fear and abuse.

The council chamber heard how women felt harassed and frightened when faced by anti-abortion campaigners outside health premises. This led to heightened stress at an already physically and emotionally difficult time. It was also stated that some NHS staff had been verbally abused as they went about their work and that this was also unacceptable.

Ealing Council was congratulated on introducing buffer zones around health facilities in its area but it was accepted that the laws used to introduce them in England did not apply here.

Cllr Eva Murray proposed an amendment to the motion which stated that the council should instruct the Chief Officer of the Joint Integration Board to consult with Police Scotland as well as the health board and the Scottish Government to assess the powers which could be used to implement buffer zones in Glasgow.

Councillor Kim Long asked that the council's Chief Executive brings a report detailing potential courses of action back to the appropriate committee by the end of the year.

The amendments were accepted and it was stressed that wider public consultation with all stakeholders would take place if the proposal progresses.

Published 28/6/18

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