‘A sinister presence’: Pro-life group recruits Edinburgh volunteers for autumn protests
40 Days For Life aims to ‘end the scourge of abortion’ in Scotland and beyond
A pro-life group, described by some campaigners as “sinister”, is actively recruiting Edinburgh-based volunteers ahead of scheduled protests in the city this autumn.
40 Days for Life, a Texas-based international group of anti-abortion campaigners, are advertising for locals to join them in their mission of “ending the scourge of abortion through prayerful, peaceful, lawful vigils”.
The Scottish pro-choice group Back Off Scotland, which campaigns for protest-free buffer zones to be introduced around clinics, has condemned the protests, saying they mark a “sinister presence”.
40 Days campaigners will stand outside the Chalmers sexual health centre near Tollcross, which offers abortion services, for 12 hours each day between 28 September and 6 November 2022. It is part of their annual internationally coordinated campaign of protest and prayer outside abortion clinics worldwide.
A spokesperson for 40 Days for Life told The Edinburgh Tab they are offering “help to those women considering abortion but in their heart of hearts know that it is wrong”.
It comes as Scottish First Miniter Nicola Sturgeon has pledged the government’s support for 150-metre buffer zones to be introduced. At a summit in June, Sturgeon insisted that women must be able to access healthcare without experiencing harassment, but the proposals will need to be legally sound to be implemented.
A recent poll for Scotland on Sunday found that more than two thirds of Scots support the introduction of protective buffer zones.
Pro-life advocates claim that such a law would limit freedom of speech and expression.
40 Days for Life has issued strict guidelines for those who choose to participate in the so-called vigil, including an instruction to “pray for everyone you interact with”. Volunteers must also adhere to the Statement of Peace, which insists that all activity at the events will be legal. The website also outlines logistical details, including the nearest parking sites.
Despite the pledge to carry out the events peacefully, pro-choice advocates have recorded graphic signs being held at those entering clinics, including one that read: “Babies are murdered here”, at a Glasgow clinic in June.
The Scottish government is planning a second summit on the issue to take place in late August.
Speaking to The Edinburgh Tab, a spokesperson for Back Off Scotland said: “It’s sad to see that these deeply inappropriate anti-choice protests are planning a return to the entrances of abortion clinics across Scotland next month.
We need to put an end to this sinister presence that staff and patients are faced with when accessing healthcare. We’re working closely with Gillian Mackay MSP and the Scottish Government to bring in primary legislation to create safe access areas and implement buffer zones nationally.”
A spokesperson for 40 Days for Life said: “Abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. Our purpose is to be a visible presence outside of abortion clinics, offering help to those women considering abortion but in their heart of hearts know that it is wrong. We are also there as a reminder to the staff and the general public that abortion is a grave moral issue.