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BPAS and Back Off Scotland welcome safe access zones into law in Scotland

BPAS and Back Off Scotland welcome safe access zones into law in Scotland
12th June 2024

BPAS and Back Off Scotland have today welcomed the passage of the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zone) (Scotland) Bill at its final stage in the Scottish Parliament.

The bill, proposed by Gillian Mackay MSP, brings the law in Scotland into line with that in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and will protect women and healthcare professionals from harassment while accessing or providing abortion care across Scotland.

The bill received overwhelming support in the Scottish Parliament, with Members of the Scottish Parliament voting it through 118 - 1.

BPAS has been running the national campaign for safe access zones since 2014. In Scotland, we have been working alongside Back Off Scotland and others to deliver these vital protections.

Rachael Clarke, BPAS Chief of Staff, said:

“We’re delighted that after a decade of hard work behind the scenes, the cross-party Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill has passed Stage 3 in the Scottish Parliament, and will now become law.

“Nobody deserves to experience fear, intimidation, or harassment when accessing or providing abortion care, and it’s positive that Scotland has now joined the rest of the UK in getting this vital safeguard on the statute books.

“But the passage of Scotland’s Bill must also act as a wake-up call for the new government in Westminster. After more than a year of waiting for safe access zones to come into force, patients and providers are still being harassed by these groups. 2024 must be the year that this stops for good.”

Lucy Grieve, Back Off Scotland Co-Founder, said:

“It’s wonderful that after four long years of campaigning, the day has finally come and safe access zones have been officially passed into law.

“This has been a hard-fought campaign, and I’d like to pay tribute to Alice Murray and Lily Robertson who both put their head above the parapet in the early days of our campaign to bravely share their own stories of facing anti-abortion activists at the doors of sexual health clinics. Without Alice and Lily, we would not have been able to give a voice to the so many women, abortion providers, and others who have been impacted by this harassment.

“Whilst safe access zones have been delivered, the work of Back Off Scotland will not stop. The next priority for us is to continue our campaign to make sure that abortion services are provided locally so that no woman has to make a 1000-mile round trip to England to access care that 1 in 3 of us will need in our lives. We are also looking forward to working with BPAS and the Scottish Government over the coming months to look at ways in which we can reform Scotland’s archaic abortion law, to make it fit for a 21st Century healthcare system.”


For further information, please contact Rachael Clarke, Chief of Staff, on press@bpas.org or 07985 351751.

Notes to editors

The bill can be found here: https://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/bills/abortion-services-safe-access-zones-scotland-bill

The bill was voted through Stage Three on a free vote on 12th June 2024. 

Safe access zones will come into force across Scotland on a day determined by the Minister. 

About BPAS

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, is a charity that sees over 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception at clinics across Great Britain.

BPAS exists to further women’s reproductive choices. We believe all women should have the right to make their own decisions in and around pregnancy, from the contraception they use to avoid pregnancy right the way through to how they decide to feed their newborn baby, with access to evidence-based information to underpin their choices and high-quality services and support to exercise them.

BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, CRRC. Through rigorous multidisciplinary research and impactful communication, the CRRC aims to inform policy, practice, and public discourse. You can find out more here.