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Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside the Marie Stopes clinic on Mattock Lane, ahead of a vote by Ealing Council on whether to implement a safe zone outside the west London abortion clinic to protect women from being intimidated. Photo: PA

Councils consider ban on protests at abortion clinics in UK

Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside the Marie Stopes clinic on Mattock Lane, ahead of a vote by Ealing Council on whether to implement a safe zone outside the west London abortion clinic to protect women from being intimidated. Photo: PA

Local authorities in England are considering whether to ban protesters from outside abortion clinics.

Ealing Council cabinet will vote today on whether to implement a buffer zone outside a Marie Stopes clinic in the west London borough, via a public space protection order (PSPO).

The local authority has been exploring a range of options on how to prevent “intimidation, harassment and distress” of women using the clinic following a 3,500-strong petition.

Authorities in Birmingham, Manchester, Portsmouth and two more London boroughs have also discussed taking action.

In late January, Manchester City Council passed a motion to investigate reports of intimidation and harassment outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Fallowfield and, if necessary, to mimic Ealing Council’s proposed plans.

The council described demonstrations outside the Marie Stopes Birmingham Centre in Edgbaston as “street harassment” and “a form of sexism against women”.

Recently, Leeds City Council heard from representatives who felt the Marie Stopes centre and its clients would benefit from a PSPO. In south London, both Lambeth and Richmond councils have tabled similar motions.

However, Alithea Williams, communications officer at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said Ealing’s move was “authoritarian” and “extraordinary”.

independent.ie

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