HUMAN rights laws are slowing down the Scottish Government’s ability to ban protests outside of abortion clinics, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.

The First Minister was responding to repeated calls from campaign groups to install 150m (500ft) buffer zones outside of clinics to keep anti-abortion campaigners away from women seeking to use health services.

The Scottish Government has set up a working group on buffer zones, although there have been calls for it to move faster.

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On Tuesday, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said ministers had “stalled and dissembled” on buffer zones.

There have been renewed calls for buffer zones in Scotland after it emerged the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling legalising abortion across the US may be overturned.

And in March, the Daily Record revealed that the organiser of one of the pro-life groups targetting clinics in Scotland was recruited by an American-based religious group.

On the last day of the election campaign, the FM was said that any law would have to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The National: The FM said any legislation would have to be ECHR compliantThe FM said any legislation would have to be ECHR compliant

Sturgeon has previously said that the right to protest is a key consideration when it comes to introducing the buffers to stop women being harassed.

She said: “On all legislation we have to ensure that legislation is ECHR compliant and when you are, as some people would say, interfering in the right to protest there’s just a complex legal issue that we have to work our way through,”

The Scottish Government’s working group’s most recent minutes detail that members “reflected that understanding the issues and perspective from all sides may still be useful”.

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Sturgeon added: “I think people know my views on abortion and people know my views on the right of women to control their own bodies and the right to choose.”

The FM’s coments came after the architect of the UK’s abortion laws intervened on the issue.

Lord David Steel said “busybodies have no right to pressurise women” who are seeking to end a pregnancy.

The National: Calls for buffer zones have intensified in recent months as anti-abortion protestors target clinicsCalls for buffer zones have intensified in recent months as anti-abortion protestors target clinics (Image: PA)

During his time as an MP, Steel introduced the Private Member’s Bill which made abortion legal in the UK.

The former Liberal Party leader, who went on to become the first presiding officer at the Scottish Parliament, stressed those who “oppose abortion in principle should have their views respected”.

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He was also clear that “nobody should be pressured into undertaking abortion if they are opposed to it”.

Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay is proposing to introduce a Member’s Bill at Holyrood to legislate for buffer zones around abortion clinics, although the move has so far not been backed by the Scottish Government.

Steel’s comments came after reports based on leaked documents suggested the US Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalised abortion across the country – sparking fears that as many as half of all US states could then introduce bans on terminations.