Nationwide ‘buffer zones’ will not be introduced around abortion centres by the Government, in a move welcomed by advocates for the unborn.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said it would “not be a proportionate response”, given that nearly all pro-life activities in such areas involve “praying, displaying banners and handing out leaflets”.
Be Here For Me, which has challenged a buffer zone implemented by Ealing Council, welcomed the decision. But pro-abortion activists said they would pressure councils to introduce individual bans.
In a written Parliamentary statement issued yesterday, Mr Javid said a consultation on the issue had received over 2,500 responses.
While he said a few people reported harassment, the normal activities were peaceful.
“In this country, it is a long-standing tradition that people are free to gather together and to demonstrate their views. This is something to be rightly proud of”, he said.
Mr Javid wrote that having considered the evidence of the review, “introducing national buffer zones would not be a proportionate response, considering the experiences of the majority of hospitals and clinics”.
Be Here for Me said the Home Secretary’s decision will mean “women will continue to be offered much needed help and support”.
“This carefully considered decision represents the common sense we have been calling for all along.”
But abortion giant BPAS said it would seek to “work with councils to roll out this model across the country”.
Activist group Sister Supporter thanked BPAS for its work on the issue, and commented on Twitter, “we have a long way to go”.
In April, Ealing Council voted unanimously to introduce the UK’s first ever abortion clinic Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).
The move prompted criticism from abortion supporter Josie Appleton, of the civil liberties organisation Manifesto Club.
She described it as “a travesty for public freedoms”.
Later a letter – signed by Manifesto Club, Big Brother Watch, Index on Censorship, the Freedom Association and Peter Tatchell – said Ealing’s PSPO was “so widely drawn as to impose potentially unlawful restrictions on the rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression”.