More than half of Midlands MPs support abortion clinic buffer zones

Pro-life campaigners opposite the BPAS clinic on Romford Road, Stratford. Credit: Newham Recorder

Pro-life campaigners opposite the BPAS clinic on Romford Road, Stratford. Credit: Newham Recorder

More than half of MPs in the Midlands support “buffer zones” for abortion clinics.

A poll by YouGov found that 57% of MPs surveyed supported Ealing Council’s recent decision to explore the possibility of introducing a buffer zone, which prevents anti-abortion groups from protesting in the immediate vicinity of a clinic which carries out abortions. 101 politicians were surveyed and of those, 8 were from the Midlands area.

Ealing Council voted in October 2017 to explore using anti-social behaviour tools, including Public Spaces Protection Orders in response to growing harassment and intimidation outside a Marie Stopes clinic in the area.

Labour MP Preet Gill has previously offered her support and called for similar measures in her constituency.

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS), said:

“A clear majority of MPs support action on anti-abortion clinic protests. For years, a tiny handful of individuals have been permitted to cause women seeking legal healthcare services significant distress. As a direct result of the government’s refusal to engage with this issue, these groups have become emboldened and protests have intensified. This cannot be allowed this to continue.

“We are a pro-choice country with a pro-choice parliament – but this isn’t about the rights and wrongs of abortion. Indeed, we know that MPs who have not traditionally supported a woman’s right to choose are in favour of buffer zones – because they understand that the harassment and intimidation of any woman on the streets of the UK is unacceptable.”

In October, a cross-party group of over 100 MPs, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, wrote to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, whose own Hastings constituency has seen activists livestream their protest near an abortion clinic on Facebook, calling for the government to bring forward legislation to introduce buffer zones outside clinics in order to move protesters away from the space directly outside medical facilities providing abortion care.

In response, the Home Office stated that they would “explore whether any further action is needed to ensure clinic staff and patients can go about their lawful business free from harassment, offence or alarm”, but to date the government have insisted that no further legislation is needed.

Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, will lead a parliamentary debate today calling for the Home Secretary to introduce buffer zones around clinics and pregnancy advisory bureaux nationally.

March For Life have tweeted their opposition to the buffer zones ahead of this afternoon’s debate.

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