Don't ban help outside abortion centres for those in need
Abortion Provider BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) has been campaigning to establish ‘buffer zones’ (or more appropriately, censorship zones) outside of abortion clinics by saying that those involved in pro-life vigils are frequently involved in the harassment and intimidation of women.
The BPAS ‘Back Off’ campaign has been run on the basis of many unfounded allegations which have completely mischaracterised the activities of vigil members. Much of the ‘evidence’ that is provided to show ‘harassment’ and ‘intimidation’ has been brought forwards by the abortion providers themselves. Such ‘evidence’ is usually vague and unsubstantiated, and often confuses the activities of pro-life groups with that of ‘pro-choice’ groups (such as ‘Sister Supporter’) who have been set up specifically to aggressively protest against the presence of pro-life groups outside of abortion clinics.
Disturbingly, this forceful campaigning has resulted in Ealing Council and Lambeth Council pressing ahead with plans to implement PSPOs (Public Space Protection Orders) which would establish censorship zones around abortion clinics. Other councils are watching these developments closely, and may take similar action if Lambeth or Ealing are successful in implementing them.
The Home Office has also been pressured into holding a consultation on ‘protests’ outside of abortion clinics. This consultation suggested that the Government might take action to impose censorship zones around abortion clinics across the country.
If these censorship zones are implemented, it will prevent pro-life groups from offering help and support to vulnerable pregnant women, some of whom desperately want to keep their babies but feel as though they have no choice but to have an abortion.
Hundreds of women are helped by pro-life outreach outside the gates of abortion centres with assistance that includes counselling, help with food, baby clothes, rent, housing and legal advice among many other things.
There is no doubt that action should be taken against people who do genuinely harass or intimidate women entering abortion clinics, and there are a very wide range of powers available to the police to do this. However, the abortion providers and ‘pro-choice’ pressure groups are against the very presence of pro-life groups near abortion clinics, regardless of the vital support that they are providing to women in need, and have resorted to mischaracterisation and exaggeration to exclude them from public space.
Implementing censorship zones is likely to violate several fundamental human rights (particularly the right to freedom of expression) because of the authoritarian and disproportionate nature of such measures. It would also set a dangerous precedent that small but vocal pressure groups can effectively censor another minority group they dislike or disagree with. This is ‘mob-rule’ in action, and is very bad for civil society.
Sign the petition now to raise your concerns with the Home Office, Lambeth Council and Ealing Council, and lend your voice to the efforts to stop them from implementing these draconian censorship zones around abortion clinics.
Sign this petition now!
Petition to: Sajid Javid (Home Secratary); Julian Bell (Ealing Council Leader) and Lib Peck (Lambeth Council Leader)