Are vigils “violently preventing” access to abortion?

Emma Roddick is an MSP representing the Highlands and Islands region in the Scottish Parliament. On 4th November 2021 she spoke in a members’ business debate regarding Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones.


During her contribution Emma Roddick said:

“We must be clear that these people are not protesting against policy…. They are not harmlessly and peacefully making their views heard. They are violently preventing people from accessing healthcare and harassing vulnerable patients”

Source: Scottish Parliament Official Report:


Evidence from Police Scotland over several years does not show any violent incidents at vigils in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In the first 6 months of 2021, Police Scotland were aware of only 1 instance of a vigil in either city which they described as “peaceful”

Police Scotland reports are supported by information provided by some NHS Health Boards including:

NHS Grampian, which told the Back Off Scotland group (who campaign for a ban on vigils):

“These vigils have caused us no issues to date”

NHS Lothian FOI responses have repeatedly said they have no violent incidents recorded in their Datix adverse event management system

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have said that they have “no recorded information” and do not monitor prayer vigils held by pro-life groups near hospitals or clinics in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Emma Roddick was approached for comment.

Conclusion: INCORRECT

Police Scotland and NHS Boards are good sources of information. Their many FOI responses, over several years, do not support the claim that vigils are violent. Some Police and NHS evidence contradicts Emma Roddick’s claim by describing vigils as “peaceful” or causing “no issues”

Based on these multiple and reliable sources, Emma Roddick’s statement that vigils are “violently” preventing access to abortion is rated as INCORRECT