Councils wanting to restrict protests outside abortion clinics have been challenged by a group of campaigners, including human rights activist Peter Tatchell and the Freedom Association.
The campaigners, who also include the Manifesto Club, Big Brother Watch and the Index on Censorship, say they have ‘grave' concerns over plans to introduce legally-enforceable buffer zones designed to prevent harassment of women using the clinics.
They say the Public Spaces Protection Orders would unfairly inhibit lawful protest and set 'a dangerous precedent for freedoms in the UK'.
Letters have been sent to the London boroughs of Lambeth, Richmond and Southwark along with the city councils of Portsmouth, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
The signatories say they respect women’s right to abortion and to seek services safely without obstruction or harassment.
But they say 'we are also defenders [sic] the right to protest and freedom of expression, and these rights also require protection.'
There has been 'a consistent failure in the use of PSPOs to make a distinction between activities causing objective nuisance or harm, and activities with which people disagree, or that they find disagreeable.'