Pro-abortion MPs pressure Home Secretary over pro-life vigils

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is facing pressure to continue a controversial review of pro-life demonstrations initiated by his predecessor Amber Rudd.

More than 150 MPs have written to Javid, alleging that women face harassment and intimidation outside abortion clinics, and urging national legislation to establish ‘buffer zones’.

The letter, signed by several high-profile MPs including Jeremy Corbyn, Vince Cable and Zac Goldsmith, claims that pro-life protestors are “targeting individual women” who are simply seeking to access “healthcare”.

No justification

Pro-life groups have provided evidence to show that their methods are peaceful, and warned that buffer zones would violate their right to free speech.

BBC Newsnight spoke to Robert Colquhoun, Director of International Campaigns at 40 Days for Life.

He said that members of his pro-life group, which holds peaceful vigils outside abortion facilities, are required to behave peacefully and legally, or be ‘immediately disassociated’ from the campaign.

John Edwards, an activist for 40 Days for Life, told the programme how he had an injunction brought against him for his peaceful witness outside Nottingham’s main hospital. The injunction was dropped by a judge who said it could “simply not be justified”.

Voting record

In 2011, Sajid Javid voted in favour of an amendment by Nadine Dorries MP to prohibit pre-abortion counselling by abortion providers such as BPAS and Marie Stopes.

He also backed Fiona Bruce MP’s 2015 amendment to expressly prohibit sex-selective abortion.

However, Javid also voted to allow the creation of babies with three or four parents – a process which involves the destruction of human embryos.


Last month, Ealing council became the first local authority in the UK to implement an abortion buffer zone.

The new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) forces those offering support to women outside a Marie Stopes abortion clinic to stand at least 100 metres away or face legal action and a possible fine of up to £1,000.

It came under fire from a wide range of critics including Josie Appleton, of civil liberties organisation the Manifesto Club.

Appleton, who describes herself as ‘pro-choice’ described the move as a “travesty for public freedoms”.


The Home Office pledged a review into abortion vigils in November last year, saying it will “explore whether any further action is needed to ensure clinic staff and patients can go about their lawful business free from harassment, offence or alarm”.

Following the announcement, 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.”

Related Resources