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Digest: London borough launches consultation on anti-abortion protest ban

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Ealing LBC has launched a consultation on a possible public spaces protection order (PSPO) outside an abortion clinic.

The council is asking for views on a proposed ‘safe zone’ outside the Marie Stopes clinic. This is aimed at stopping women visiting the clinic being harassed and intimidated, while it is also hoped the order will improve the quality of life for residents living nearby.

PSPOs provide councils with powers to criminalise certain behaviours in a specific area.

Ealing was the first council to vote in support of preventing protesters from standing near the clinic and reportedly distressing women who want to enter.

The council voted at a full meeting on 10 October last year to “take all necessary actions within its powers… to prevent anti-abortion protesters from intimidating and harassing women”.

Other councils to have followed Ealing in voting against anti-abortion protest include Manchester City, Portsmouth, Southwark, Lambeth and Richmond.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • If there has been harassment the police already have powers to deal with this. Intimidation is a bit more subjective. PSPOs provide extremely broad powers for regulating the ‘quality of life’ of the community. There is real danger that if these are misused they will damage everyone's right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression (regardless of the issue of protest - whether it's bankers, nuclear missiles or ending the life of unborn children).

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