REX/Susannah Ireland

Concern abortion clinic protest ban will see prayer criminalised

Fri 06 Apr 2018
By Marcus Jones

It's claimed a proposed ban to protests outside an abortion clinic in Ealing, West London will inadvertently lead to prayer being criminalised.

The local council is considering introducing a buffer zone outside a Marie Stopes clinic (pictured below) meaning women can visit without fear of intimidation.

The plan to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) will be debated next week but campaigners fear the legislation is so broadly worded that those wishing to pray or offer support to women could end up being criminalised.

 

Campaign group Be Here For Me is calling for a rethink.

Jaceline, who was supported herself outside an abortion centre said: "My daughter means the world to me. It is really upsetting to know that people are actively trying to ban the offering of support like I received outside the abortion clinic.

"If censorship zones are brought in, many women who are in similar situations to me will be forced into going ahead with abortions they don't want."

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Ealing Council has refuted the claims about prayer. In a report on the issue, it said: "While 'prayer' is outlined within the prohibited activities, it is critical to note that only prayer in relation to protesting in an act of approval or disapproval in 34 respect of abortion services is included within this prohibition.

"This means that the only circumstances under which prayer may be targeted as a prohibited activity under the PSPO is if it is taking place within the context of a protest that is an act or attempted act of approval or disapproval related to abortion services."

A petition to Ealing Council Leader Julian Bell opposing the introduction of censorship zones has been signed by around 6,000 people.

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