Ealing Council’s ban on peaceful pro-life campaigners has been described as a “sad day for women”.
Councillors voted unanimously last night to introduce the UK’s first ever abortion clinic Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), in a move celebrated as “a landmark decision” by pro-abortion campaigners.
Pro-lifers have spoken out against the council’s decision. Elizabeth Howard, spokeswoman for new campaign group Be Here For Me, said the result was sadly expected.
Howard said: “This PSPO is a draconian ban that will criminalise ordinary citizens who just want to offer help to vulnerable young women outside abortion clinics.”
“We’re here to support women who maybe feel they don’t have any other choice than abortion and don’t want an abortion”.
Local MP Rupa Huq, who has previously spoken out in favour of abortion buffer zones, celebrated the announcement alongside Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).
‘Very sad day’
But speaking for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Alithea Williams said: “It’s a very sad day, not just for democracy, but for women.
“There are hundreds of women who have been helped by the pavement counsellors outside of this clinic.
“We had some of these women speaking in front of the council last night.
“They had very moving stories and they and we are now devastated that other women in hard situations will not be offered this help.”
‘Have a right’
And Josie Appleton, who convenes civil liberties organisation the Manifesto Club, said the council’s decision “is a travesty for public freedoms”.
“This PSPO also goes against new government guidance, which states that an order must only target ‘the specific behaviour or activity which is causing nuisance or harm’.”
Appleton, who describes herself as “pro-choice”, believes that “pro-life groups should also have a right to express their views, so long as they do not infringe upon women attending the clinics”.
Campaigners in favour and against abortion will now be forced to stand more than 100 metres away from the West London abortion clinic.
Ealing Council leader Julian Bell said the PSPO will be implemented within five days.
Those found in breach of it could face legal action and a possible fine of up to £1,000.