Mothers who chose not to have an abortion are taking Ealing Council to court after it banned peaceful pro-life campaigners outside an abortion centre.
Last month the council unanimously voted to introduce the UK’s first ever abortion clinic Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which bars campaigners from within 100 metres of the Marie Stopes building.
Ahead of the legal challenge, national media commentators Anne Atkins and Ann Widdecombe spoke out on the contentious ban.
Outside the High Court, Alina Dulgheriu, who was helped by advocates for the unborn when she was considering an abortion, said she wanted justice for vulnerable women.
"They have made it illegal to help women like me. How is it respectful of a woman’s choice to hide from her the help that she desperately wants and needs?" Find out more at: https://t.co/g7GixRvO6k#behereforme #dontcensorlove #nocensorshipzones pic.twitter.com/3Jm8XLzcIZ
— Be Here For Me (@behereformeuk) May 2, 2018
“Despite over 20 years of vigils operating peacefully without a single arrest, and despite a great relationship with the local police”, the council “chose the most extreme option available to them, and removed vigils entirely”.
“I cannot put into words the joy, the beauty and the love that my daughter has brought to my life.
“She would not be with us today if it weren’t for the vigils that Ealing Council has criminalised.”
Clare Mulvany, who lives in Ealing, told the press conference that she supports the long-running outreach.
“As an Ealing resident I feel desperately let down by my council.
“Instead of taking an option that would have protected all women and represented all women caught up in this issue, they have excluded and punished the most vulnerable stakeholders: the mothers that want and need help.”
Commentator Anne Atkins considered Ealing Council’s move in a Daily Mail article.
While she said she felt sympathy “with both sides of the debate”, she wrote that free speech is so important “that I feel uncomfortable” about the ban.
Atkins wrote, “whatever we may think about abortion, surely many who value our tradition of free assembly and expression will feel uneasy about the silencing of these campaigners who wait out in all weathers in a bid, as they see it, to ‘help’”.
Former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe, writing in her Daily Express column, expressed frustration at ‘pro-choice’ activists who “actually support only one choice: that to abort an unborn child”.
She continued: “Everybody can understand that women do not want to be harassed at a stressful time but the law already forbids that.
“What most of these vigils do is simply make visible an alternative route and many women have, over the years they have been operating, approached them and received help in a situation where they thought there was none.”