Scotland: silent prayer deemed ‘unacceptable’ in hearing on world’s most extreme abortion buffer zone law

Mar 1, 2024 by

from Right to Life UK, Christian Today:

The Scottish Parliament has begun hearing evidence on a Bill which, if it becomes law, will introduce the world’s most extreme buffer zone law in Scotland.

Parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill began on Tuesday with the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee convening for its first of four evidence sessions.

The Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill was introduced by Scottish Green Party MSP, Gillian Mackay, in October last year.

A number of abortion activists and women who had previously had abortions told their stories to the parliamentary committee. One witness said that prayer outside locations where abortions are performed is “unacceptable” and that banning it through this legislation would be “extremely beneficial” for the whole of society.

Silent prayer and private dwellings

Among those who questioned the witnesses, Conservative MSP Sandesh Gulhane repeatedly asked about the issue of restricting silent prayer in a public space and how other jurisdictions had approached this. He suggested that at least in some circumstances, it would be “impossible to know” if someone was silently praying, raising concerns over how clergy who might be present in the buffer zone might be policed.

Gulhane also asked witnesses about the Bill’s provision to extend into private dwellings suggesting that this would “erode” privacy within one’s own home.

The Explanatory Notes accompanying the Bill make clear that the provisions of the Bill apply to “residential buildings” within the buffer zone. This means that it may be illegal to display a pro-life sign from within a church or within a person’s own home if it is visible within the buffer zone.

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