Yesterday I started a petition. This is something I have never done before – although I have signed hundreds – but it is an issue I felt so strongly about, so angry about, that I had to do something.
The group concerned, “40 days for Life”, intend to (and have been given permission to) picket in the Queen Elizabeth University (New Southern) Hospital grounds for the whole of Lent. This will cause disruption and quite likely distress to women accessing a range of services – not just terminations – as well as staff.
I am pro-choice, I don’t believe it is an easy decision for any woman to make, and ultimately all children should be wanted and cared for in loving homes. Groups like these cause me distress as I feel that even though they believe “unborn life to be sacred” they stop caring once it is here.
I have a number of concerns after reading about this group.
Firstly, why now? The Scottish Government will soon hopefully have devolved powers over terminations completely in their health care remit. To me, this seems right and proper. In addition, the Scottish Government has already announced they have no plans to review current legislation and time scales, which after some of the comments coming from Westminster Health Secretaries, is a relief.
There is already an alignment working towards reducing time scales, and although I disagree with them fundamentally, at least they are acting through reasonable methods, not harassing women at a vulnerable time.
I also worry about the reputation this may give Scotland. This is not a backwards country and I do not want us to have the reputation of either Ireland or the USA towards family planning.
And finally, I worry that allowing a group like this to protest would set a precedent. I do not want to see scenes such as we see coming from the US. I do not want women or the medical staff that care for them feel threatened.
In addition, if people like this get their way through intimidation, where will it end? Shorter timescales, the total ban on terminations? These groups tend to be anti-contraception and sex-education, both of which leads to higher unplanned pregnancies. It’s all very well saying abstinence is good for you, but what teenager (or anyone older) really believes that?
George Monbiot wrote an excellent piece last week on the same subject:
I doubt this piece will have changed anyone’s minds, on what is a highly emotive subject, but I hope you understand why I felt the need to start the petition.
However, I do hope you agree that these decisions should be made through the proper channels and not through the harassment of women and health workers. If so, my petition is here and I will be very grateful if you sign it.