Govt considering new powers to shut down pro-life protests

Police could be handed new powers to silence pro-life opposition outside abortion clinics, according to the Home Office.

The Government has said it will review the “scale and nature” of abortion protests recently taking place.

More than a hundred MPs signed a letter claiming presenting a pro-life view of abortion amounts to “misogynistic” abuse.

Buffer zone

In a statement, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Let me be clear, this review is about ensuring the police, healthcare providers and local authorities have the right powers to protect women making these tough decisions.”

The commitment was applauded by Shadow Home Office Minister Rupa Huq, who previously said that the presence of pro-life supporters outside the Marie Stopes centre in her constituency has “had me seething with rage since the ’90s”.

Huq has demanded a ‘buffer zone’ “to exclude protests within 150 metres” of abortion clinics.


John Smeaton, Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said the review is “biased” as it is based on the false assumption that harassment and intimidation are being used by pro-lifers:

“This Home Office review is a wholly inappropriate response to small numbers of prayerful people who offer leaflets to women.

“These leaflets let women know where they can get help, which they cannot get anywhere else.”

Free speech

Earlier this month, pro-lifers criticised Portsmouth Council’s decision to look at introducing a buffer zone outside an abortion clinic in the city.

A motion was passed enabling the council to “do all within its powers” to prevent people from protesting against abortion outside the BPAS clinic.

Councillor Steve Hastings was the only one to vote against it, saying that a buffer zone would deter “freedom of speech.”


The decision was also opposed by commentator 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.”

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