Pro-lifers have lambasted Portsmouth Council’s decision to look at introducing a buffer zone outside an abortion clinic in the city.
A motion was passed last week for the Council to “do all within its powers” to prevent people from protesting abortion outside the BPAS clinic. It was passed by 31 votes to one, with eight abstentions.
Recently, more than a hundred MPs wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, urging her to legislate for buffer zones on a wider scale.
‘Freedom of speech’
Councillor Steve Hastings was the only one to vote against the motion, saying that a buffer zone would deter “freedom of speech.”
“The right to showcase one’s freedom of speech is one that should be upheld”.
The decision was also opposed by Caroline Farrow, who had an abortion twenty years ago after being raped. She said she was “not informed about the basic facts of my procedure”.
“If I’d been given this information or known about how an abortion can affect your mental health, especially during subsequent pregnancies … then I would have rethought.”
Speaking for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Alithea Williams said the council’s decision was “another move in the deeply worrying trend to shut down free speech and prevent women from being offered real choice”.
“There is ample evidence that abortion is harmful to women’s mental and physical health. We also know from the witness of the many mothers who have been helped by pro-life volunteers that women often end up at abortion clinics because they feel they have no other choice.
“Why should volunteers be vilified for offering help to women in need?”
Williams added: “If this motion is acted on, more women will be denied access to support, and more will suffer the trauma of abortion.”
Earlier this month, a letter signed by 113 MPs, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, claimed that trying to change a woman’s mind on abortion amounts to “misogynistic” abuse.
The signatories argued that members of the public should instead voice their disagreement with abortion in other meeting places.