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Second summit on abortion clinic buffer zones planned this month

Protests have been held outside abortion clinics across Scotland in recent months (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)
Protests have been held outside abortion clinics across Scotland in recent months (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)

The Scottish Government will host a second summit on buffer zones around abortion clinics later this month.

Nicola Sturgeon chaired the first event at the end of June, describing it as “constructive and helpful”.

The second summit, the Scottish Government has said, will focus on the possible use of bylaws by local councils to enforce buffer zones, limiting protests outside clinics where abortions are provided.

Such protests – which some in attendance have described as “vigils” – have been held across Scotland in recent months, causing outrage across the political spectrum.

Nicola Sturgeon speaking at abortion care summit
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon chaired the first summit in June (Lesley Martin/PA)

Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay has pledged to bring forward legislation that would create buffer zones, but Government action has been stymied by legal wrangling.

“The Scottish Government is planning a summit for late August,” a spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said.

“We are working with Cosla and relevant local authorities to prepare for this. This meeting will focus on the potential for using bylaw powers to address issues at particular sites in order to prevent patients or staff feeling harassed or intimidated by abortion vigils or protests.

“The First Minister also proposed convening a further, broader summit on abortion rights around six months after the first abortion summit in June.

“This will be arranged after the Supreme Court judgment has been received in relation to the Northern Irish Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill.”