Ealing Council Anti-Abortion Protest Ban Has Been Approved
The Debrief: Could this landmark decision be about to set a national precedent?
Crowds of pro-life protestors brandishing graphic images of aborted foetuses can still be found today at the entrances of some UK abortion clinics. We find it difficult to believe too...
Among these is the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, which given its big green space outside and the fact it's a late-term clinic, has been a target for pro-life groups, upsetting women on what's already a particularly difficult day.
Anti-abortion groups like the Good Counsel Network have been holding daily vigils and even approaching women on their way into the clinic for over twenty years, and John Hansen-Brevetti, director of clinical services at the Ealing centre, has said that the harassment of patients has worsened in recent years.
In a council meeting, Anna Veglio-White, founder of women's rights group, Sisters Supporter mentioned that one teenage patient had been told that she would be ‘haunted by her baby’ as she went to the clinic for an appointment.
But yesterday, councillors in Ealing took action, and backed a notion to stop anti-abortion groups protesting outside their clinic.
There were 3,593 signatures from residents on a petition backing the decision and letters were sent describing ‘disruption and distress’.
The Ealing council voted to seek an order creating a ‘buffer zone’ around the abortion clinic, to prevent pro-life campaigners harassing patients. It’s a public spaces protection order, which stops planned activities in a given geographical area (often used to prevent anti-social behaviour and drug-taking).
Out of the 69 councillors present in the meeting, all voted in favour, apart from two who abstained.
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It’s been described as a ground-breaking decision, and Bindi Rai, who brought the motion, has said ‘this is really a stand for women, and for women's rights to access healthcare that is legally available to them’.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service urges the government to make protests at all clinics illegal.
Hopefully, the landmark decision in Ealing will set a national precedent, and other local authorities will be quick to follow their lead.
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