US-STYLE anti-abortion protests are to be staged outside Glasgow's new super hospital in the first demonstrations of their type in Scotland.

Pro-life group Forty Days For Life will picket at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital throughout February and March, targeting it due to abortions being carried out in NHS facilities in Scotland.

The group, which was founded in the US over a decade ago, said it had the permission of both the hospital and Police Scotland for its protests, insisting it would not be harassing individuals coming to and from the hospital.

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NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said any protest would have to take place outwith the hospital grounds. 

But opponents have accused the group of "a legacy of using tactics of intimidation and harassment (which) bear disturbing similarities with the extreme practices deployed in the US".

Forty Days has also been accused of distributing medically inaccurate literature including claims abortion causes cancer and of direct women away from regulated health clinics to 'crisis pregnancy centres' run by pro-life groups.

The protests marks a clear attempt to thrust the issue centre stage and come less than a fortnight after the launch of a new anti-abortion campaign in Scotland to fight moves which it claims could see terminations legalised “up until the point of birth” when responsibility for the matter is handed to Holyrood.

The 'Don't Stop The Beating Heart' coalition is co-ordinated by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland, is supported by the Catholic Church in Scotland, the Muslim Council of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland, among others.

Pro-life activist Rose Docherty, from Bishopbriggs, is the Glasgow Forty Days campaign director and said the protests would be "peaceful, prayerful" and be staged every day throughout the six weeks of the Christian period of Lent.

She said: “There are more than 30 babies a day being aborted in Scotland. This is a counter cultural message that people don’t want to hear, but it’s vital that they do.

“It is not a demonstration. We will be there every day quietly praying, we won’t approach people, there won’t be graphic images. If someone wants to come and talk to us that’s fine.”

Ann Henderson, of the Abortion Rights Committee Scotland and assistant secretary of the STUC, said: "While the presence of Forty Days may seem peaceful to those involved, it can be unsettling and intimidating for patients and staff.

"I am surprised the NHS has felt it appropriate to allow the action to take place at the hospital, when it is an action clearly aimed at challenging legal medical practice.

"Women should be supported in the decisions they make about their own bodies and their own reproductive health, and the NHS staff involved in providing services in line with the 1967 Abortion Act deserve support too, not criticism’

A British Pregnancy Advisory Service spokeswoman said: ‘This is disturbing news for Scottish women. Despite the claim by Forty Days for Life that this is not a protest but a ‘prayer vigil’ the reality is women find running a gauntlet of anti-abortion activists intimidating.

"A group of strangers ‘witnessing’ a woman as she accesses a confidential NHS service is a significant invasion of privacy. Anti-abortion groups are free to hold their vigils anywhere else. They should leave individual women who want to seek advice and care in privacy and dignity alone."

Forty Days was originally started in 2004 in Texas and has since spread to 25 countries. The international chairman of group will visit Glasgow to take part.