Thu, Oct 12, 2017 - Page 7 News List

London council seeks end to abortion clinic protests

Thomson Reuters Foundation, LONDON

A London council on Tuesday voted to seek an order creating a buffer zone around an abortion clinic to prevent pro-life campaigners from harassing and intimidating patients in the first case of its kind in Britain.

Ealing Council voted to pursue a public spaces protection order, which bars pre-defined activities in a geographical area and is usually used to stop anti-social behavior like drug taking.

Of the 69 counselors who were present at the council meeting, all voted in favor of the motion, bar two who abstained.

The motion will now be put to a public consultation.

Opposition Labour Counselor Binda Rai, who had proposed the motion, said it was time to tackle this head-on before a debate in which counselor after counselor highlighted the negative impact of anti-abortion protests on the community.

Developments in Ealing will be watched closely by other councils amid an increase in the volume and ferocity of anti-abortion protests around Britain, campaigners said.

“The increase [in protests] smacks of desperation as many more people in the UK now support the right to abortion,” British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s Clare Murphy said.

The vote in Ealing follows a petition from pro-choice group Sister Supporter, which regularly clashes with protesters outside a Marie Stopes clinic in the west London suburb.

Clad in high-visibility pink jackets, Sister Supporter forms a picket line to stop campaigners from the anti-abortion Good Counsel Network approaching women on their way into the clinic and brandishing graphic images of aborted fetuses.

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