Protesters gather at US Consulate in Edinburgh over abortion ruling

Campaigners warn the American decision will embolden pro-life activists in the UK

Crowds gathered outside the American consulate in Edinburgh to protest the US Supreme Court’s decision to override the legal right to abortion.

Campaigners from the pro-choice group Abortion Rights Scotland attended the protest on Friday evening, calling the ruling a “dark moment” which was likely to embolden pro-life campaigners in the UK.

Members of the Scottish Parliament were also present, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the court’s decision on Twitter, saying it marked one of the darkest days for women’s rights of her lifetime.

Chants of “our bodies, our choice” could be heard outside the consulate near Calton Hill, and protestors held signs objecting to the decision.

“Banning abortion only bans safe abortion”, wrote one woman, whilst another sign simply read, “F**k this”.

The SNP is under pressure to act after John Mason, an MSP for the party, caused controversy by saying he feels “pretty positive” about the Supreme Court’s ruling. Nicola Sturgeon is due to host an ’emergency summit’ on women’s healthcare this Monday 27 June.

The Supreme Court overruled the landmark Roe v Wade case, which in 1973 legalised abortion across the US. The change means that more conservative American states, including Alabama and South Carolina, are likely to make abortions illegal.

13 states, including Texas and Tennessee, have so-called ‘trigger laws’ already in place, meaning that abortion will automatically be outlawed within 30 days.

The Edinburgh protest follows months of wrangling in Scotland between campaigners and the government over so-called abortion clinic ‘buffer zones’.

Back Off Scotland has urged the Scottish government to outlaw intrusive protests by pro-life campaigners outside abortion clinics, calling on them to create a 150-metre protest-free zones around clinics.

Within the zones, protestors would not be allowed to gather or interact with patients, supposedly providing those seeking an abortion with safe and unobstructed access to sexual health centres. It follows reports of women being confronted with signs reading ‘abortion is murder’ at Scottish clinics.

Pro-life protestors argue that buffer zones would limit their freedom of speech and expression.

40 Days for Life is a Texas-based group which has a network in Scotland that helps to organise many of the pro-life abortion clinic protests in Edinburgh, including at Chalmers Sexual Health Centre. The group have welcomed the historic ruling, and has laid out plans for a ‘post-Roe world’.

Pro-choice campaigners in Scotland are now urging the public to write to their representatives to encourage support for an upcoming bill that would create abortion clinic buffer zones.

The following have been approached for comment: Back Off Scotland, Abortion Rights Scotland, the Scottish Government, 40 Days for Life. 

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