Ealing council have taken the landmark move to ban pro-life protestors from demonstrating outside of an abortion clinic.
Not one councillor voted against the move last night to have a buffer zone around the clinic, so as to prevent harassment of those entering the clinic.
— bpas (@bpas1968) October 11, 2017
Protestors outside of the clinic had reportedly harassed service users as they entered the Marie Stopes clinic, with one report of a teenager being told they would be haunted by the ghost of their baby, according to Sisters Supporter group founder Anna Veglio-White. Veglio-White said this to the full council meeting.
She told The Evening Standard prior to the meeting that: “The clinic in Ealing suffers particularly severe ‘vigils’ from pro-life groups as it is a late term clinic, and has a large patch of grass opposite allowing for enormous prayer groups to congregate outside.”
“This has been happening in Ealing, six days a week, for over 20 years.”
The vote last night came after 3000 signed a petition from the campaigning group Sisters Supporter to create the buffer zone around the clinic. The campaign was supported by Ealing Central and Acton Labour MP Rupa Huq.
Richard Bentley, Marie Stopes managing director, said after the council meeting: “This ground-breaking move by Ealing Council sets a national precedent for ending the harassment of women using legal healthcare services.
“We respect and support the right to free speech, but it absolutely does not give strangers a free pass to bully and intimidate women.”
“The majority of women who arrive at our clinics have already had a consultation with a trained professional in which they have talked through their options and have come to a decision that’s right for them.”
“Strangers harassing them as they enter and leave the clinic does nothing to change that. All it does is upset women on what can already be a difficult day.”
“We are grateful to Ealing Council for recognising this and taking action, and to Sister Supporter and Rupa Huq MP for their campaign.”
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said in a statement: “We welcome Ealing Council’s commitment to talking all actions within its powers to prevent the harassment of women attending their local clinic.”
“We urge the government to follow the example set by Ealing Council, take responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of women seeking abortion care, and put forward legislation to introduce buffer zones as a matter of urgency.”Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.