Pro-lifers have said that calls to introduce ‘buffer zones’ preventing them from protesting outside abortion clinics would restrict free speech.
A coalition of groups, including the nation’s largest abortion provider BPAS and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, want the Government to introduce zones keeping protesters ten metres away from a clinic entrance.
But a Home Office spokesperson indicated that the law is unlikely to change.
“Peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society, provided it is conducted within the law.”
He added: “Rights to peaceful protest do not extend to threatening behaviour and the police have powers to deal with any such acts.”
One mother, Suzan Briggs, shared how thankful she was for a pro-life presence outside the abortion clinic she went to last year, as they helped her to keep her baby.
Joy and peace
“They took me to a coffee shop, they bought me tea and I said I would go home and try to think about it,” Suzan said.
“The way they talked to me gave me faith and their encouragement made me decide to keep the baby”, she added.
Suzan gave birth to her daughter eight months ago, and says she has “given me joy and peace in my family”.
The director of a pro-life organisation has pointed out that the police already have powers “to stop harassment and distress”.
“What bothers us about the buffer zones is that it’s anti free speech”, he said.
“It bothers us because BPAS is hiding the information we’re giving out to women. If we can’t reach them, more babies will die and more women will be harmed by BPAS”, he added.
The US Supreme Court recently struck down a Massachusetts law creating 35-foot ‘buffer zones’, because they infringe on free speech.
The court said the zone was too sweeping, intruding onto places where free debate and leafleting traditionally take place.