On Tuesday, a suburb of London saw its city council vote to establish a “buffer zone” around an London abortion clinic to prevent women seeking abortions from being confronted by pro-life activists.
And what were the pro-life activists doing in Ealing that was considered so dangerous? “Brandishing graphic images of aborted fetuses,” according to Reuters. But Antonia Tully of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told members of parliament that the supposed intimidation “is not what is happening.” Another SPUC spokesperson, Alithea Williams, said, “If people were genuinely being intimidated then of course we would want to condemn that, but there are laws in place about harassment and intimidation and nobody has been arrested at these sites.”
Thus, for the first time in Britain, Ealing council unanimously voted to block protesters from standing within 100 meters of a Marie Stopes clinic. The Marie Stopes clinic performs roughly 7,000 medical and surgical abortions a year. Marie Stopes UK’s managing director, Richard Bentley, enthused, “This is a landmark decision for women. We know other councils have been watching this process and some are exploring similar measures to increase protection outside clinics in their areas.”
The public spaces protection order (PSPO) was approved for three years and will probably be implemented on April 23.
Since 1968, abortion has been legal in Britain for pregnancies up to 24 weeks.
Good Counsel Network’s director Claire McCullough called the vote “draconian” and said her group would challenge it, adding, “It’s very disappointing for the hundreds of mothers we’ve helped over the years.”
A spokesman for Manchester City Council said, “The council is actively exploring all possible options to prevent protesters from intimidating and harassing women outside abortion clinics.” Reuters reported, “A spokesman for London’s Lambeth council said it had held a public consultation on the matter, while Richmond council, also in London, said it was taking legal advice on the way forward following a January meeting.”