Ealing Council make landmark move in fight to stop pro-life campaigners harassing women outside west London abortion clinic

A west London council has passed a landmark decision to find ways to ban pro-life campaigners from harassing women attending an abortion clinic.

Ealing Council voted on Tuesday night to take action to prevent campaigners approaching people as they enter a Marie Stopes clinic on Mattock Lane.

The vote came after more than 3,000 campaigners signed a petition put forward by women’s rights group Sisters Supporter to create a buffer zone around the practice.

It would see protesters banned from being within a certain distance of the entrance.

Founder of the group Anna Veglio-White told a full council meeting at Ealing Town Hall how one teenage client had been told by protesters that she would be “haunted by her baby” as she went for an appointment.

Speaking before the meeting, Ms Veglio-White told the Standard: “The clinic in Ealing suffers particularly severe ‘vigils’ from pro-life groups as it is a late term clinic, and has a large patch of grass opposite allowing for enormous prayer groups to congregate outside. 

“This has been happening in Ealing, six days a week, for over 20 years.”

In the first motion of its kind to be passed in the UK, the council will now consider steps to stop protesters harassing women outside the clinic.

Richard Bentley, Managing Director at Marie Stopes UK, said following the meeting: “This ground-breaking move by Ealing Council sets a national precedent for ending the harassment of women using legal healthcare services. 

“We respect and support the right to free speech, but it absolutely does not give strangers a free pass to bully and intimidate women.

“The majority of women who arrive at our clinics have already had a consultation with a trained professional in which they have talked through their options and have come to a decision that’s right for them. 

“Strangers harassing them as they enter and leave the clinic does nothing to change that. All it does is upset women on what can already be a difficult day.

“We are grateful to Ealing Council for recognising this and taking action, and to Sister Supporter and Rupa Huq MP for their campaign.” 

Thousands demand protesters stop abortion clinic harassment

A statement from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service added: “We welcome Ealing Council’s commitment to talking all actions within its powers to prevent the harassment of women attending their local clinic.

“We urge the government to follow the example set by Ealing Council, take responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of women seeking abortion care, and put forward legislation to introduce buffer zones as a matter of urgency.”

Source : https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/ealing-council-make-landmark-move-in-fight-to-stop-prolife-campaigners-harassing-women-outside-west-a3655571.html