A group of mothers who were offered help outside abortion clinics by pro-life vigils have welcomed the Home Secretary decision to reject pressure from abortion lobby groups to introduce nationwide ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics.
The Home Secretary has made clear that there are a wide range of existing powers available to local authorities and the police to deal with any problematic behaviour that does harass or intimidate anyone entering an abortion clinic. He recognised that taking action on a national level would not have been proportionate, which is particularly true in light of the many women who have received practical help and support outside abortion clinics across the country.
Ealing Council recently introduced a broadly-worded Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that criminalised individuals praying or offering support to women outside of the Marie Stopes abortion clinic on Mattock Lane. The Ealing PSPO is subject to a court challenge, and a crowdfunding appeal has already raised over £42,000.
The announcement comes as there has been growing calls from throughout the community to reject any attempts to introduce ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics. Earlier this year Peter Tatchell, Manifesto Club, Big Brother Watch, Index on Censorship and the Freedom Association came together to oppose the introduction of ‘buffer zones’.
Alina Dulgheriu, who was supported outside an abortion centre, said:
“I am very grateful to the Home Secretary for ensuring that national ‘buffer zones’ are not introduced in this country.
When I met the group outside the abortion clinic in Ealing, it was the first time that I felt I had a choice. I am forever grateful to these mothers who selflessly give up their time to offer help to women like me.
If it weren’t for the real practical and emotional support that I was given by them, my daughter would not be here today. ‘Buffer zones’ would only limit the choices available to mothers in my position.
Inside an abortion clinic the only thing they offer is abortion but these women can offer so much more; counselling, financial assistance, help with food, baby clothes and rent among many other things. The announcement today means that women who are in similar situations to me will not be denied this life-changing help when they need it most, outside the abortion clinic.”
Elizabeth Howard, spokeswoman for the Be Here For Me campaign said:
“This carefully considered decision represents the common sense we have been calling for all along. It demonstrates Sajid Javid’s commitment to fundamental civil liberties as well as ensuring that women will continue to be offered much needed help and support. It will mean that people offering this vital support will not be criminalised.
Sajid Javid has made it clear that there are a wide range of existing powers available to local authorities and the police to deal with anyone that does harass or intimidate someone outside an abortion centre. He recognised that taking action on a national level would be a disproportionate violation of citizens fundamental rights.
This is a victory for the 100s of women who have received practical help and support outside abortion centres across the country, and for all the women who will not have this vital support option removed from them when they are in need in the future.”