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Ealing Council votes to act against anti-abortion protests

Ealing Council votes to act against anti-abortion protests

Back in 2015 it was reported here that a group called Helpers of God’s Precious Infants had begun ramping up their anti-abortion vigils outside a Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, West London.

Religious zealots targeted the clinic with a large picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe. They clutched rosary beads as they prayed, sang hymns, and raised their eyes and hands to the sky.

Lining the pavement were laminated photographs of human embryos in lurid colour, alternating with “cutesy” images of toddlers and rubber sculptures of foetuses. People entering and exiting the clinic were handed leaflets stating:

You will later regret it.

Well, the BBC today reports that councillors in Ealing have overwhelmingly backed a proposal to stop anti-abortion groups protesting outside the clinic.

Binda Rai, who brought the motion, said it would allow women to access:

To legal healthcare without intimidation.

The Good Counsel Network, another group that holds daily vigils outside the centre in Mattock Lane, denies harassing women.

The council motion said 3,593 residents signed a petition, delivered by campaign group SisterSupporter, backing the move.

SisterSupporter members gather in opposition to the “pro-lifers”.

SisterSupporter was founded by Anna Veglio-White, who, back in 2015 said:

When I returned from university this summer, I took up running and I noticed that they [the anti-abortionists] were now outside the clinic five or six days a week without fail. I saw how they approached women and used pictures and models of foetuses to try and discourage them from going inside.

I felt that there needed to be a consistent and concentrated effort to oppose them. All the local people I know are just as unhappy about the vigils, so I decided to harness their outrage to try and do something.

SisterSupporter said dozens also wrote letters describing “disruption and distress” caused by the protesters.

Speaking after the vote, Rai said there could be “national implications”, and that Ealing could be the first council to take action against protesters outside abortion clinics.

I’m absolutely thrilled that there was such huge support in the chamber for the motion, and right across the parties.

It was really good. And this is really a stand for women, and for women’s rights to access healthcare that is legally available to them.

She said the council may use a Public Space Protection Order (PSPOs), which give councils the power to crack down on perceived anti-social behaviour.

Richard Bentley, managing director of Marie Stopes UK, hailed the decision as:

Ground-breaking. We hope that other local authorities will follow this example and act to increase protection for women in their area.

A spokesman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said it welcomed the vote result and urged the government to introduce legislation banning protests at all clinics.

The situation in Ealing is sadly not unique, and women and clinic staff across the country report being followed, filmed, and harassed when trying to access or provide legal healthcare services. This has to stop.

Clare McCullough, the Good Counsel Network’s founder, told the BBC the group had held its vigil for 23 years “without any criminal charges”.

Responding to the prospect of a PSPO, McCullough said:

Most lawyers would agree those orders were not put in place for this kind of issue. They’re not there to suppress freedom of speech. I think it would be a grave misuse and would have implications for all kinds of groups who are protesting all kinds of things.

Hat tip: AgentCormac and BarrieJohn

14 responses to “Ealing Council votes to act against anti-abortion protests”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    There’s a change.org petition you can sign that’s lobbying to have a legal exclusion zone created around abortion clinics. The aim being to keep god’s obnoxious vigilantes a good distance away from the clinics’ patients and staff. If you’d like to add your name you can do so here:
    https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-please-create-a-legal-exclusionary-zone-outside-of-abortion-clinics

  2. Angela_K says:

    Everybody should have a right to protest but not the right to cause distress to women who are already in a vulnerable situation after making a difficult decision. These religious nutters use photo-shopped pictures or pictures of miscarriages and still-births to harangue women and screech at women using emotive words such as “murder”, “killing babies”. These groups are often funded by evangelical nuts from the USA where, ironically, the so called pro-life religious extremists are pro death penalty and pro gun ownership.

  3. barriejohn says:

    There is no reason whatsoever to protest outside the clinics, apart from one. Such tactics are a disgrace. This comment by Rupa Huq (MP for Ealing Central & Acton) is spot-on:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/10/anti-abortion-abuse-women-asbo-ealing-nhs-protests

  4. Broga says:

    They could, with better reason, direct their protests against the widespread paedophilia in the RC Church. And, it appears, in other churches. Deciding to have an abortion must be already distressing without having this bunch deciding how the potential mother must behave.

  5. L.Long says:

    Hold up sign….
    MARY! the reason abortion makes sense. Raped by stranger and forced to give birth to a bad preacher!

  6. David Anderson says:

    These anti-abortion, pro-lifers are the same in any country. Once they get their way and a child is born they don’t give a flying fuck what happens to it, especially if the baby is, you know, not the right colour,not the right religion etc.

  7. Italian Scallion says:

    They raise their eyes and hands to the sky as though they’re waiting for the second coming of E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Screw your murderous bitch of a god.

  8. John the Drunkard says:

    What has Mexico to do with this? Does the group have a connection, or is there some particular sub-group of popery involved?
    > 23 years “without any criminal charges”.

    23 years of special treatment more likely.

  9. Dianne Leonard says:

    I just read an article about a state court decision. About 8 years ago, a man raped a little girl (12 years old at the time). She got pregnant. Her son is now 8 years old. The rapist went to jail (short term) for that rape and another of an equally young woman. Now he is suing to get joint custody of “his” child by the now-20 year old woman he raped. *And the court granted him joint custody.* Why don’t these anti-abortion fanatics take the side of the young woman in this case? It must be every woman’s nightmare, to continue to be abused by their rapist.

  10. AgentCormac says:

    @Dianne Leonard
    I don’t know in which country the events you refer to took place, but even in the UK there are people like the loveable Jacob Rees-Mogg MP who seem to think that women should have no say whatsoever in what happens to them if they have been raped or been the victim of incest.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41172426

  11. tonye says:

    The two photos above, albeit probably selective, to my mind show the massive differences in people involved in this debate.

    The first picture shows the pro life (ie pro religion) and a more miserable bunch of twats it would be difficult to find.

    The second picture shows the pro choice group and, horror of horrors, they are all smiling and happy.

    So what group would you join…….?

  12. L.Long says:

    I’ve seen more sad looking self-hating, bigoted ahole xtians then the smiling happy types!

  13. 1859 says:

    This is not a ‘freedom of speech’ issue – it’s a freedom from intimidation issue. Everyone in a democracy has the right to protest, but not to harass, bully, belittle or terrorise others. An exclusion zone is absolutely essential.

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