A Birmingham MP has backed moves by a London council to restrict protests outside an abortion clinic — and called for similar measures in her consituency.
Labour MP Preet Gill has tweeted her backing for a decision by London’s Ealing Council to create a buffer zone around a local abortion clinic, banning demonstrations there.
She called for a similar move Birmingham after receiving complaints about the 40 Days for Life campaign outside an abortion clinic in her constituency.
I fully support the action taken in Ealing and am hopeful that we can extend this to Birmingham as well as amend the domestic violence bill https://t.co/R9EGsCnl7M
— Preet Kaur Gill MP (@PreetKGillMP) October 21, 2017
But the director of the campaign has rejected accusations of harassment and called on Gill to start a dialogue with them.
40 Days for Life
Pro-life campaigners are staging 40 Days for Life, a vigil outside the Marie Stopes International Clinic, in Gill’s Edgbaston constituency. It runs from 27th September to 5th November in Birmingham.
“We pray that, with God’s help, this will mark the beginning of the end of abortion in our city — and beyond,” says the campaign website.
Gill told Birmingham Eastside that some constituents had contacted her with their concerns about the campaign.
“Nobody should feel any level of intimidation or harassment … That is why it is important to have a buffer zone.”
But Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the campaign’s Birmingham director, expressed disappointment that Gill had not contacted them before speaking out.
“What we are doing isn’t a demonstration, it’s just a witness, a peaceful witness…
“We are simply there to offer help and alternatives to women that want it — or couples that want it — we are not there to impose anything or to harass or to intimidate.”
“Extreme religious views”
Gill’s tweet over the weekend was in response to an opinion piece by sociologist Dr Pam Lowe in the Birmingham Post arguing for restrictions on abortion clinic vigils.
Dr Lowe, a senior lecturer at Aston University, wrote that research she and other academics had carried out had found that some of the protestors held quite extreme religious views. She added:
“Everybody is, of course, entitled to their personal religious belief, including being against abortion, but the question is whether or not this is ever justification to intimidate others?”
Vaughan-Spruce said she was trying to contact the Post to complain about the article.
A spokesman for Marie Stopes UK offered no comment on the situation in Birmingham.
But earlier this month, managing director Richard Bentley welcomed the initiative by Ealing Council — and called on other local authorities to follow suit.