Richmond: Don’t ban prayer and offers of help outside of abortion centres
Abortion Provider BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) has been campaigning to establish ‘buffer zones’ (or more appropriately, censorship zones) outside of abortion clinics by saying that those involved in pro-life vigils are frequently involved in the harassment and intimidation of women.
The BPAS ‘Back Off’ campaign has been run on the basis of many unfounded allegations which have completely mischaracterised the activities of vigil members. Much of the ‘evidence’ that is provided to show ‘harassment’ and ‘intimidation’ has been brought forwards by the abortion providers themselves. Such ‘evidence’ is usually vague and unsubstantiated, and often confuses the activities of pro-life groups with that of ‘pro-choice’ groups who have been set up specifically to aggressively protest against the presence of pro-life groups outside of abortion clinics.
Recently, Home Secretary Sajid Javid rejected proposals to introduce buffer zones outside abortion clinics on a national level after the Home Office conducted an in-depth review. He said that buffer zones would not be a proportionate response because the normal activities conducted outside of abortion centres, such as prayer and handing out of leaflets, were “passive in nature.” He also said that the long-standing tradition we have for people to be free to gather together and to demonstrate their views was something we should be proud of.
However in April, Ealing Council implemented a PSPO (Public Space Protection Order) which established a censorship zone around a local abortion centre. The PSPO made it a criminal offense to pray about abortion, or to offer help to women outside the centre. The PSPO is currently being challenged in the courts by a brave mother who received help from a pro-life vigil herself.
Richmond Council have now announced plans to bring in the same PSPO which would ban pro-life groups from offering help and support to vulnerable pregnant women - some of whom desperately want to keep their babies but feel as though they have no choice but to have an abortion. They are doing this even though the Ealing PSPO is being challenged in the courts.
Hundreds of women are helped by pro-life outreach outside the gates of abortion centres with assistance that includes counselling, help with food, baby clothes, rent, housing and legal advice among many other things.
There is no doubt that action should be taken against people who do genuinely harass or intimidate women entering abortion clinics, and there are a very wide range of powers available to the police and councils to do this. To date, the police have not found the behaviour of those outside of the Richmond centre to constitute harassment or intimidation, and there has not been a single prosecution brought against anyone for peacefully offering help. However, the abortion providers and ‘pro-choice’ pressure groups are against the very presence of pro-life groups near abortion clinics, regardless of the vital support that they are providing to women in need, and have resorted to mischaracterisation and exaggeration to exclude them from public space.
Sign the petition now to raise your concerns with the Richmond Council, and lend your voice to the efforts to stop them from implementing a draconian censorship zone around the abortion centre on Rosslyn Road.