William Eichler 09 October 2019

Home Office urged to review abortion clinic buffer zone decision

Home Office urged to review abortion clinic buffer zone decision image

Charities and medical bodies have today written to the Home Secretary to ask for an ‘urgent review’ of a decision taken last year not to install buffer zones around abortion clinics.

The Home Office launched a review of anti-abortion protests in November 2017. The following year the then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid concluded that the Government would not take any action on this issue.

The review concluded that, ‘Pro-life activity is reported as taking place outside a relatively small number of abortion facilities [36 out of 406]. The size and frequency of events varies from facility to facility, although daily activities with more than 10 activists are rare.’

A coalition of charities and medical bodies has, however, written to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling on her to review the Home Office’s decision.

The letter, published by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said the consultation was based on an ‘incomplete and inequitable presentation of evidence’.

It argues the experiences of women are ‘consistently underplayed and misrepresented’. The consultation, according to the letter, focuses more on the question of ‘embarrassment’ and downplays issues such as ‘intimidation’, ‘harassment’, and ‘distress’.

The letter, which is signed by more than 30 organisations and individuals, also argues that there is ‘a lack of critical evaluation’ of the claims of protestors who are opposed to abortion.

‘Based on these shortcomings in the evidence provided to the minister, we would like to invite you as the new home secretary to ask for a full review of the evidence provided and to look again at the possibility of introducing national buffer zones to put a stop to protests at the clinic gate,’ the letter reads.

‘It is a measure that is supported by many MPs of all parties, more than 150 of whom have signed letters to your predecessors indicating their desire for action.

‘Ultimately, this is not a question about abortion, but about the ability of women to access legal and essential medical care without fear of harassment or intimidation.’

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘This is a sensitive and complex issue, which is why we conducted an in-depth review of protests outside abortion clinics.

‘The right to protest is a vital part of a democratic society, but it is completely unacceptable that anyone should feel harassed or intimidated.

‘We expect the police to take a firm stance against protesters who significantly disrupt the lives of others and use the full force of the law. There are already powers in place for police to restrict harmful protest activity.’

A number of councils to date, including Ealing and Richmond, have implemented Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) around abortion clinics to limit the activities of protesters.

Highways jobs

Governance and Assurance Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
£38,813 to £42,683
Are you someone who is methodical in approach with an eye for detail? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Business Development Manager (Grow Yorkshire)

North Yorkshire County Council
£34,788 to £38,813 per annum
Do you have an enterprising approach to developing solutions? Are you an exceptional communicator? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Enterprise Partnership Officer (Infrastructure)

North Yorkshire County Council
£34,788 to £38,813 per annum
Are you an experienced Project Manager who is methodical in your approach with exceptional attention to detail? Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Project Lead - Housing Growth

North Yorkshire County Council
£38,813 to £42,683
Do you have a substantial understanding of the housing market and the housing planning system? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Communications Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
£29,636 to £32,029
Are you someone with excellent skills in communications and looking for your next challenge? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine