Leeds MP calls people praying outside abortion clinics fanatics "who aim to harass women"
13 February 2018
Fabian Hamilton MP thinks praying is harassment
And, he says, they "must face the full extent of the law."
Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP for Leeds North West, has said that the Marie Stopes abortion centre in his constituency "has become a target for fanatical groups who aim to harass women." Writing in the Yorkshire Evening Post, he said that "women who use abortion centres are becoming regularly exposed to abuse and harassment from anti-abortion activists standing outside the clinic, often kneeling in prayer or showing extremely graphic images to the women."
He then made unsubstantiated allegations that clinic staff are being abused, and women subject to "an unforgivable amount of distress."
Vigils save lives
"It is absolutely astounding that Fabian Hamilton MP considers prayer is a form of abuse and harassment,” said Antonia Tully, SPUC's Director of Campaigns. "Mr Hamilton is perpetuating the myth that women are being intimidated by the presence of a small number of peaceful people praying near an abortion clinic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every year hundreds of women have their lives turned round for the better when they decide to keep their baby after an encounter with a pro-life vigil."
Promoting abortion lobby
Mr Hamilton also praised the "Back Off" campaign, run by BPAS, and called for legislation to create "access zones" around clinics to "prevent this obstruction of women’s freedoms." The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, launched a review into "harassment and intimidation near abortion clinics" after a concerted campaign against pro-life vigils by Labour MP Rupa Huq.
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Why defend Marie Stopes?
Mrs Tully described Mr Hamilton's desire to legislate specifically to ban pro-life vigils as "an out and out attack on the pro-life movement in this country."
"Mr Hamilton defends the current law on abortion,” she went on. "But has he read the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report on Marie Stopes International? If he had he would see that the Marie Stopes clinics are guilty of flouting the law with practices such as bulk signing of abortion forms and inadequate procedures on consent...If Mr Hamilton really cared about women, he should be calling for Marie Stopes to be stripped of its licence to operate."
While many MPs like Mr Hamilton have been supporting the BPAS campaign, others have defended the right of pro-lifers to peacefully witness outside clinics. Sir Edward Leigh read out the story of "Kate" whose daughter's life was saved by a pro-life vigil, in Parliament. In January, he also called on the Home Secretary to confirm her commitment to the right to peaceful protest. "Given that there have been no successful prosecutions for harassment outside abortion agencies in recent history, will she resist the campaign to set up buffer zones?" he said.
Ms Rudd replied: "I hope that I was able to reassure him that it is this government’s plan always to ensure that peaceful protests can continue, wherever that is.
“It is also this government’s commitment to make sure that women can access abortion safe from harassment and intimidation."
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