A sexual health body representing medics is calling for the introduction of ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics in the UK.
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is seeking to prevent people praying, handing out pro-life literature or speaking to anyone about abortion near to clinics.
In 2017, the FSRH backed the decriminalisation of abortion in England and Wales, and along with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the group has also produced a pro-abortion resource for schools.
On Monday, FSRH President Dr Asha Kasliwal called for “the legal implementation of buffer zones around abortion clinics across the UK”.
In a ‘Position Statement’ on its website, the group – which represents fewer than 5 per cent of all registered doctors – claims: “Even quiet protest can be intimidating”.
It also accuses pro-life campaigners of distributing “false information” outside abortion clinics and complains: “In some cases, protests cause such distress that treatment is deferred.”
A Government spokeswoman defended “the right to protest” as “a vital part of a democratic society”, but added that the “issue of abortion buffer zones remains under review”.
Monday’s FSRH press release highlighted the launch of MSP Gillian Mackay’s public consultation on her proposal to “create protest free buffer zones” outside abortion providers in Scotland.
Compassion Scotland, a new campaign group opposed to censorship zones around hospitals, said the Scottish Green Party member’s plans “would diminish support available to women and unfairly restrict free expression”.
Spokeswoman for the group Hannah McNicol argued: “Scots have every right to offer support to women considering an abortion, including beside healthcare settings.”
She also said: “Censorship zones would end one important means of signposting support to vulnerable women who have nowhere else to turn.”