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Headlines > Government rejects calls for 'buffer zones' outside abortion clinics

13 September 2018 | by Ruth Gledhill

Government rejects calls for 'buffer zones' outside abortion clinics


Government rejects calls for 'buffer zones' outside abortion clinics

Alina, who was supported outside an abortion centre, was among those outside the High Court in London earlier this year
Photo: Be Here for Me

Alina, who was supported outside an abortion centre, was among those outside the High Court in London earlier this year

The Home Secretary has rejected calls for "buffer zones" to be introduced around abortion clinics nationwide. 

Sajid Javid made his decision based on the fact that there is already a wide range of powers available to local authorities and the police to deal with any problematic behaviour such as harassment or intimidation. Therefore, any national scheme to implement buffer zones would have been disproportionate.

His predecessor Amber Rudd had set up an assessment of the situation to see if more needed to be done to protect women accessing the clinics from harassment or other damaging behaviour. However, the assessment found that although such behaviour had occurred, it was not the norm. 

Earlier this year Ealing Council Ealing Council in west London voted unanimously in favour of introducing a buffer zone around an abortion clinic after women complained of intimidation by protestors. The council's Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) is currently subject to a court challenge, and a crowdfunding appeal has already raised over £42,000.
 
Among those opposing the buffer zones are the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Manifesto Club, Big Brother Watch, Index on Censorship and the Freedom Association.
 
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." 

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.”

The charity Life also welcomed the decision.

Life's Senior Education Officer Liz Parsons said: "How refreshing it is for a politician to not blindly follow the pro-abortion agenda. for too long our law makers have appeared scared to speak against the pro-choice lobby, Sajid Javid's measured response supports what we have been saying all along; that laws already exist to prevent harassment and that the majority of prolife demonstrations are 'passive in nature'.

"Freedom of speech is one of the corner stones of our society and this is a sign of real hope that the pro-life voice will not be silenced into submission by our government. it allows for the possibility that women with an appointment at an abortion clinic may have a final opportunity to become aware of positive, alternative support and that the life of her unborn child may be saved."


 

 





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