MSPs and pro-choice campaigners gather in Edinburgh for Roe VS Wade abortion rights debate

MSPs and reproductive rights activists gathered in Edinburgh to show solidarity with their American peers who were protesting against the new Roe v Wade call.

The protest, outside the US consulate in the Scottish capital, came as hundreds of thousands of people across America took to the streets to protest the looming US Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay was one of those present, showing her solidarity with pro-choice campaigners in Scotland and abroad.

She spoke to campaigners about her Buffer Zones Bill in Scotland, which she hopes to launch in a few weeks.

Monica Lennon MSP gives a speech to pro-choice campaigners outside the US Consulate in Edinburgh

Its aim is to set up protective zones around health facilities that provide abortion services to ensure that people cannot protest against those trying to access services.

Speaking at the protest, Ms Mackay said: “We are here in Edinburgh today to stand in solidarity with our sisters in America and those who may be affected by the rollback of the Roe v Wade case in America.

“It is solidarity that brings everyone here today.

“I am also hopefully in a few weeks time launching my bill to introduce buffer zones in Scotland to ensure that no one continues to face the harassment we have seen here in Scotland.

“There was definitely an escalation after the Roe v. Wade judgment leaked.”

Monica Lennon MSP also showed her support for activists by speaking a few words during the protest. The Labor politician said she stood in solidarity with those fighting for reproductive rights.

“I am also here today to show my support for Gilian Mackay’s Membership Bill,” Ms Lennon added.

She told campaigners: “It’s important that you encourage everyone you know to submit their views, because we know that sometimes abortion rights consultations on women’s rights are hijacked by those who want to take back our rights.”

The event saw other speeches from various members of pro-choice groups.

One of them included Ann Henderson from Abortion Rights Scotland.

She said ‘international solidarity is key’ in response to Roe’s new appeal against Wade, adding: ‘While social media brings its own issues, in this case it’s wonderful to be able to let women at home know instantly. United States that we are here and support their campaign.”

An activist called Caroline, who preferred not to give her full name, told activists she had had two abortions.

“I wouldn’t be the mother I am today without my abortions,” the mother-of-two said.

She compared life in Texas for women, where abortion is illegal once embryonic heart activity is detected – usually as early as six weeks pregnant, to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a futuristic dystopian novel.

Beth Douglas, from Glasgow, also gave a speech at the protest.

The 28-year-old led an emergency protest outside the US Consulate in Edinburgh last week when news broke of Roe’s flight from Wade.

She said: “I am an activist for bodily autonomy – not just for trans people but for the whole LGBT community and for cis women, cis sisters, trans brothers and non-binary siblings, because l bodily autonomy is important to all of these groups, we need to protect it and we need to be united as much as possible in this area.

“What happened in America is absolutely disgusting, an absolute horrifying shame that we’re in a situation where billions of people are going to lose the right to choose what happens to their own bodies. We think that’s wrong. “

She added: “Sometimes we try to idolize Scotland, but we’re far from a brilliant alternative right now.

“There are people who are being denied healthcare because of religious fanatics outside of our healthcare facilities, shaming them is disgusting.

“If the autonomy of the body falls in one area, it will fall in others, if it stops for one group, it will collapse for the others.

“Everyone should be able to make decisions about their own body, no matter what it is.”

Ms Douglas, a trans woman, was interrupted during her speech by women from feminist groups including Scottish Feminist Network and Edinburgh Feminists.

They were seen carrying signs saying ‘no womb no opinion’, and could be heard saying ‘it’s irrelevant’ as Ms Douglas spoke about the autonomy of the body.

Responding to their comments, Ms Douglas said: “We need to stop fighting each other and we need to come together, because it’s the autonomy of the body that’s at stake.

“I’m going to be an advocate for bodily autonomy rights because when bodily autonomy gets stronger for women, it gets stronger for everyone, and I really want to make that point and defend it until my last breath.

Dr Lindsay Jaack, 34, who organized the protest, said: “I’m not affiliated with any organisation, I’m just an American who lives in Edinburgh who is very distraught and feels drained of the Roe vs. Wade when it was leaked and just wanted to come together in solidarity.

“I am encouraged that Scotland is responding to the situation in the United States by strengthening the right to safe, legal, local and free abortion.”

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