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Southwark Council third locality to support buffer zones

4 December 2017

pro-life vigil
Peaceful pro-life prayer vigils are "intimidating and upsetting" (photo credit: Twitter) 

A third council is in talks to ban pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics.

Southwark Council is the third local authority in the UK to consider creating buffer zones to prohibit a visible pro-life presence around abortion clinics. Councillors unanimously backed a motion supporting the idea of a 'buffer zone' around the Blackfriars Medical Practice in Colombo Street, on the heels of similar motions passed in Ealing and Portsmouth.

Out of touch

In Ealing, and nationally, these ideas have been pushed by MPs who refuse to meet women who have been helped by pro-life vigils. The Evening Standard reports that the vote in Ealing came after more than 3,000 campaigners signed a petition put forward by women’s rights group Sister Supporter.

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP has promised an in-depth review into "intimidation" against women at abortion clinics, despite a cautionary note from the Good Counsel Network, who claim 20 years of experience helping women such that "over 3,000 mothers have kept their babies", together with an 8,000 signature SPUC petition opposing buffer zones.

In an ironic twist for those who care for human rights for all, Cllr David Noakes (Lib Dem), began the motion in Southwark with a reference to the 1960s: "the decade of the liberation movements in Western democracies, with Martin Luther King and the black civil rights movement, women’s liberation and the second wave of feminism..."

Continuing unfounded allegations

The Evening Standard reports that the manager of the Southwark clinic said they were delighted by the Council’s actions, adding "protesters had been unnerving clients and staff and "intimidating and upsetting" women". No evidence to substantiate these claims has yet been presented by BPAS, who run the Southwark clinic.

Copy-and-Paste motions

Thus far, Councils that have backed motions in favour of buffer zones have done so on the basis of (unsubstantiated) allegations of "harassment" and filming of women entering clinics. Groups who do not make use of graphic images, like GCN, have been accused of doing so, while The Guardian, which claims to be supporting women, published a photo of two women leaving the abortion centre in Ealing (since edited). 

This has to stop

Mothers and babies receive vital assistance from pro-life counsellors, who are able to offer women help outside abortion clinics. It is essential they are allowed to continue to do this.

Ms Rudd’s assessment of what actually happens at pro-life vigils is misleading, and the outcome of the review has been prejudiced. Please ask your MP to write to Amber Rudd objecting to the terms of this biased review.

You can use the write to your MP function on our website, or you can find your MP's contact details on the Parliament website.

To help you write your letter I am providing:

This Home Office review is a wholly inappropriate response to small numbers of prayerful people who offer leaflets to women. These leaflets let women know where they can get help, which they cannot get anywhere else.

Please send any responses you get from your MP to SPUC. On behalf of the many women and children this will help, we thank you for your time.

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