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Edinburgh council rejects call to ban pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics

Edinburgh Castle (Getty)

A pro-life group called the decision 'a significant victory for common sense'

Edinburgh City Council has rejected plans to create “censorship zones” outside abortion clinics.

The council dropped proposals to ban peaceful pro-life prayer vigils after a report stated there was “no overwhelming evidence” the vigils caused “unnecessary distress”.

The Scottish Sun reports that a team involving the city council, NHS Lothian and Police Scotland considered whether to create a zone banning prayer, information and conversations taking place outside local abortion clinics.

But the report said it “did not feel the necessity to enact any police measures”.

Michael Robinson, Communications Director for pro-life group SPUC (Scotland), said: “We know from official figures that poor women in Scotland have abortion rates twice as high as those who are well off.

“Peaceful pro-life vigils offer practical, emotional and financial support to vulnerable women who might otherwise be forced into an abortion they do not want.

“This is a significant victory for common sense, for free speech and above all for the many vulnerable women who choose to have their babies with assistance from pro-life vigils.”

Local mother Patricia Maclennan, who organises some vigils, added: “We are so grateful to the council and the NHS for respecting our right to freely pray.

“We have been offering support, love and compassion for more than eleven years and in that time, we have never been anything put peaceful and respectful in our behaviour.”

The decision comes after two London councils became the first in Britain to create so-called “buffer zones” around abortion clinics. Ealing Council passed a measure banning peaceful prayer vigils around one clinic in 2017, while Richmond-upon-Thames implemented a similar policy last month.

Alina Dulgheriu, a mother who decided not to have an abortion thanks to a vigil, is currently challenging the Ealing buffer zone in court.