I AM relieved to see Gillian Mackay’s public consultation on buffer zones available and I too hope the bill will pass quickly (Green MSP hopeful for buffer zone bill to pass quickly, May 20).

The sight of more than 100 anti-choice protesters targeting the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in April was chilling. My heart went out to all staff and patients in the building that day, particularly those who may have been there as a result of severe pregnancy complications or rape. No woman or girl deserves to be shamed while already going through a traumatic time.

READ MORE: Battle for buffer zones outside Scottish clinics has historical echoes

This protest is testimony to the power and influence of the American religious right (the protest was, after all, organised by 40 Days for Life – a Texan organisation). While I am hopeful that the buffer zone bill will pass, this targeted clinic harassment should never have been allowed to go so far. If Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd does indeed want Scotland to “lead the way” on women’s health, then Scotland needs to do more to protect women from the American religious right.

In the short-term, patients need to be able to attend hospitals without running a gauntlet of protestors. However, in the long term, education is vital to protect women’s reproductive rights.

The Scottish Government’s school RSHP (relationships, sexual health and parenthood) resources contain a PowerPoint presentation on abortion but a brief, single lesson is not enough. The presentation contains a link to a video that no longer exists and flippantly throws in adoption as an “option” (as if this is something simple and traumatic that a young girl could do easily). But even this “something” is better than the “nothing” that many girls get on abortion care.

READ MORE: Public Health Scotland data reveals abortion trends in Scotland similar over time

Research in the last decade from the EIS union found many Scottish local authorities either aren’t teaching anything about abortion or are discussing it in religious education lessons as a “moral dilemma” which is wholly inappropriate if the health and wellbeing lessons are missing. It is time for proper abortion education for young people focused on health and facts.

Girls should know that abortion is health care. An unwanted pregnancy can be devastating for a girl’s physical and mental health and long-term socioeconomic prospects. Education is essential to destigmatising abortion care and key to stopping unqualified street harassers from hanging around outside hospitals giving unsolicited “advice”.

Gemma Clark
via email

REPRESENTATION can mean “represented by” or “representative of”. The stats revealed in your story “Lowest number of female councillors in Scots Tories” (May 22) say clearly that councillors are not “representative of” our approximately 50% female population. There is little prospect of equal representation for decades to come under the present electoral arrangements.

One simple change to our voting system would guarantee a fair way of electing 50:50 female:male. Two votes, two ballot papers, one with female candidates, the other with male candidates, combined with two-member (or other even number) wards/constituencies would achieve the balance.

No matter whether it was first-past-the-post, single transferable vote, or additional member system, our returning officers would always record 50% successful female candidates. We already use two ballot papers in the Holyrood elections and multi-member wards in our council elections. So, one small change would save all the political parties a lot of hand-wringing over “encouraging more women to get involved in politics”.

Sandy Carmichael