40 Days for Life pushes back against Scotland’s proposed buffer zone bill

pro-life sidewalk counselors, Scotland

As Scottish lawmakers attempt to implement a law that would limit pro-life activity outside abortion facilities, the organization 40 Days for Life has said that it will fight the law should it come to pass.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to back a bill sponsored by Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay, which would place a buffer zone of 150 meters outside abortion facilities, limiting pro-life prayer and counseling within that radius. In promoting the bill, abortion advocates claim that most of the pro-lifers harass and intimidate women entering the abortion facility; in reality, the majority of these sidewalk counselors peacefully pray and offer help to women who may feel like abortion is their only option.

“There are stereotypes that people go out and wave Bibles at women and tell them they’re going to burn in hell and, that’s not what we do,” said Shawn Carney, CEO of 40 Days for Life. “Ours is very peaceful, it’s very law-abiding. It’s very quiet,” he said. “People can reach out to the women, the women often reach out to us.”

READ: Women-led group objects to attempt to censor pro-lifers outside Scotland abortion providers

40 Days for Life holds international campaigns twice a year, during which time pro-life advocates maintain round-the-clock prayer vigils outside abortion facilities. While more than 20,000 known children have been saved through the practice of peaceful prayer, fasting, and public witness of members, some Scottish abortion supporters call the pro-lifers “intimidating” and “shameful.”

“It’s frustrating that tomorrow ‘40 days for life’ will start their next round of 40 day anti-choice protests and I’m sure it will be upsetting for many people to see,” said Alice Murray, co-founder of the group Back Off Scotland. “We are really hopeful that with the support from the Scottish Government, this may be the last 40 days for life protest we see outside a clinic in Scotland.”

Carney told the BBC that his organization would work to fight the buffer zone bill’s passage. “We’re prepared to do a lot, legally and peacefully,” he said. “So yes, we would be prepared to take the appropriate steps, and I am telling you, there are many allies with us on this.”

He also noted that there are others who are worried about the implications of the loss of free speech should the bill pass. “They don’t agree with us on abortion but there are many people in organizations throughout the UK that think it’s absolutely shameful that we’re being targeted.”

40 Days for Life began its international fall campaign, which includes prayer vigils in Scotland, on September 28.

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