Buffer zones around health care settings where abortions are performed will be brought in after MSPs backed the private members bill of Green MSP Gillian Mackay. 

The legislation will create 200m rings outside clinics to stop users and staff being deterred or intimidated by protestors.

Pro-life campaigners could be fined if they encroach on the buffer zone - with unlimited charges for serious breaches.

(Image: PA)

It follows complaints about women having to run a gauntlet of pro-life demonstrators outside clinics, including the main NHS services in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

READ MORE: MSPs overwhelmingly back buffer zone bill at first stage

Earlier this year, the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee heard from doctors working at facilities offering abortion services, who said the protests could result in patients delaying or not accessing treatment.

Ms Mackay’s Bill follows on from a long campaign by the group Back Off Scotland.

It had been opposed by churches and Christian groups. 

The legislation backed by 118 MSPs and opposed by just one, the SNP's John Mason. He has long been a critic of the law


Ms Mackay said: “This is for women and medical professionals who have endured protests amid disgraceful scenes in the past while accessing health care, and for all those who may need to go do so in the future.

“It also carves into history the work and support of others including Back Off Scotland, health organisations and unions including the STUC Women's Committee, BPAS, and so many more, and trailblazing Irish Green Clare Bailey.

“Without their determination, support and courage that day may never have come. The fact that it has is a testament to all of those MSPs who voted for it to pass, the work of Scottish Government officials, and the importance of this parliament. 

“They all deserve our thanks."

Back Off Scotland co-founder Lucy Grieve 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.

“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."