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Council to vote on barring Christian pro-life activists from Ealing abortion clinic

Fri 30 Mar 2018
By Press Association

Councillors are to vote on whether to create a buffer zone outside a west London abortion clinic to prevent patients from being subjected to "intimidation" by Christians and other people opposed to abortion.

More than 3,500 responses were submitted over eight weeks after Ealing Council launched a public consultation in January on the introduction of a public space protection order (PSPO).

The local authority has been exploring a range of options on how to prevent "intimidation, harassment and distress" for women using the Marie Stopes clinic in the west London borough following a petition set up by local women.

 

Christians staging prayer vigils outside the site have previously denied any suggestion they harass or abuse patients.

Last year, one of the groups, the Good Counsel Network (pictured above) told Premier its members have been holding vigils outside for more than 23 years and their work is entirely peaceful.

In October 2017, Clare McCullough from the Catholic group said: "We've been holding daily vigils there for the last four years.

"There have never been any incidents there.

"There have never been any arrests of charges made there against anybody."

 

John Hansen-Brevetti, clinical operations manager for the clinic, said people calling themselves "pavement counsellors" patrol outside the building daily, barring women's paths, providing "biased" advice and showing them graphic images.

He said: "What it will do is create a zone of safety for our clients to come and access treatments without having to go through the kind of harassment and cruelty that they've faced for the better part of three decades now.

"It's a landmark decision in that it's the first of its kind in the UK and it has the potential to influence other similar initiatives around the country.

"It's something we're very excited to see happening, and we're really looking forward to our clients being able to access treatments free from that kind of emotional blackmail."

A number of councils in London, Birmingham and Leeds are exploring implementing something similar, he added.

The clinic, located in a quiet residential area of Ealing, provides around 7,000 medical and surgical abortions a year, mainly on the NHS with some private procedures.

The council's cabinet members are due to vote on the proposal at a full council meeting on 10th April.

If it goes ahead, the PSPO could come into force immediately, with those breaching its conditions liable to be fined or prosecuted.

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