PRO-CHOICE campaigners gathered in Glasgow to send a strong message of opposition to those staging an anti-abortion vigil outside a city hospital during Lent.

Over 50 people joined the RISE women's network, which was supported by Humanist Society Scotland, in a colourful and upbeat city-centre rally on Saturday despite snow and freezing temperatures.

The event was organised in response to pickets held by pro-life protestors from the 40 Days for Life organisation - which started this week and will run until 20 March - outside Glasgow's new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where abortions are carried out on the NHS.

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Though pro-life protestors claim their picket will be a "quiet prayer vigil", pro-choice campaigners are horrified by the "intimidating" presence, inspired by US-style anti-abortionist campaigning.

Plans are currently being made to devolve abortion laws in Scotland. However First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that she has no plans to change the existing legal position on abortion.

Chanting slogans including "not the church, not the state, women should decide their fate" and holding banners with slogans such as "My body, my choice", those who attended the pro-choice rally said they represented the views of the majority of Scots.

Cat Boyd, a candidate for left wing party RISE who organised the event, said: "We need to come together to reaffirm that it's up to us what happens to our bodies. It's about men and women coming together and defending the right we have to choose. We need to make the point that this is not up for negotiation."

Claire Digance, of the Humanist Society Scotland, said: "With the recent protests outside the hospital we feel that it's important that there's a loud and rational voice that shows that the majority of people in Scotland feel the way we do too.

"I don't think there is a place for these pro-life protests. For folk to have to go to work, or to go for legal treatment, to have to walk past - that is intimidating. It's upsetting and terrifying at a time which is already probably quite difficult for these women."

Anne McGregor, 67, said she felt "disbelief" that the rally was needed 49 years after the Abortion Act, which brought about the legal framework for women to have safe medical abortions.

McGregor actively campaigned for women's rights in the 1970s, when she said Glasgow women often struggled to access legal and safe abortions.

She added: "Women at the time had less freedoms. I'm very worried by the thought that things could become more restrictive again."

Pinar Aksu, 23, said: "Anti-abortion protests are against human rights and we are living in Scotland in 2016 where human rights are valued. The platform that pro-life campaigners have had, given that fact, that's a scary thing. We have to challenge this."