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London Assembly passes anti-free speech buffer zones motion

21 December 2017


Presenting SPUC's petition at City Hall.  

Despite passionate opposition from some members.

The London Assembly has today passed a motion attacking peaceful pro-life vigils in front of abortion clinics. The motion, proposed by Labour member Fiona Twycross, "asks the Mayor to clarify the powers available to the MPS to arrest and prosecute anti-choice campaigners who resort to obstruction, intimidation and harassment, so that clinics and patients have the confidence to report it. This would send a clear message that threatening behaviour will not be tolerated on the streets of London."

Free speech

Before the debate, SPUC presented a petition calling on the Assembly to stand up for freedom of speech, and allow vulnerable women to continue to receive life-saving support. The petition received 1300 in the space of a week. 

In her speech, Ms Twycross insisted the motion was "not about preventing free speech, as correspondents to Assembly Members have suggested." She also said that people who wrote in to point out that the "protests" are silent vigils were "being disingenuous" and "it's simply not the case - it is targeted harassment of a minority group."

Have you met these mothers?

The motion was strongly opposed by several AMs, including by UKIP member David Kurten. In a powerful intervention, he recounted how he had been to visit the Good Counsel Network and had meet mothers who had been helped, and their children whose lives had been saved. He challenged members: "Before you vote for this, I'd ask you - have you been to meet them? Have you gone to talk to any of the mothers who've been helped by them? Have you met their children, who are still alive today, because there are mothers going in there who think that they don't have any choice, but have been told that you can get help, if you don't want to have an abortion, there are people there who can support you and help you?"

Who's "anti-choice"?

Conservative member Andrew Boff also spoke out, saying that from conception, every person has rights, and that it is vital for women contemplating abortion to have access to all options, in order to make a fully informed decision. "I'm resistant to the motion referring to these demonstrators as being 'anti-choice' - they, I would argue, are giving the mothers more choices, and in fact, they are giving choices to people who are yet to see the light of day." 

"There is no hate speech there, only love speech," he concluded. "And for that, we want to ban them. Chair, I want no part in removing options that could lead to a human life being saved. I'm afraid I will not vote to ban love."

Illiberal

Another Conservative member, Steve O'Connell, said that he had no settled views on abortion, but that he considered the motion illiberal - "we're trying to ban a protest because we disagree with the ethos of the protesters, and that is fundamentally wrong."

The motion passed by 12 votes to 4. 

 

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Comments (4)

  • Gerard mc Grady

    21 December 2017, 7:06pm

    I am saddened that The London Assembly has today passed a motion attacking peaceful pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics. These vigils offer hope to those vulnerable women at a time when they believe no help is available to them. What would the child in the womb say if it knew what was being contemplated against it. Possibly this.

    I want to have my life, I want to have my years.
    I want to experience all of life, the happiness the tears.
    It is very peaceful here, growing in my mothers womb.
    It must remain my birthplace, don't let it be my tomb.
    How many will be taken, how many lives be lost.
    Don't let me be a victim, of this silent holocaust.
    I have no voice, I cannot be heard.
    Yet I must not be defiled, you have a duty to protect me.
    To protect the unborn child.

    Please keep defending the right to life.

    Gerard mc Grady.

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  • Christine Conlon Gerard mc Grady

    6 January 2018, 1:17pm

    This is beautiful, Gerard! Did you write it yourself, or do you know the name of the author? Yes, it is tragic that The London Assembly - which only consists of 18 people - passed this motion which will have such a disastrous outcome for thousands of unborn babies, women, men, and their families.

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  • Mary Farmer

    22 December 2017, 3:26pm

    A bold and honest statement made by David Kurten. How very sad that people don't want to hear the truth and seem to oppose what is good and right and necessary to help women and their babies.
    Thank God that David Kurten supported The Good Council Network and all they do. We are in strange times indeed. Keep praying for love to prevail in the end.

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  • Christine Conlon Mary Farmer

    6 January 2018, 1:12pm

    How is it possible that The London Assembly, which appears to consist of just 18 members, were able to hold a vote that will affect the lives of millions of unborn babies and their mothers, fathers and families? This is outrageous! They are not representative of the people of London, and clearly only speak for themselves. Congratulations to David Kurten for visiting The Good Counsel Network and seeing for himself the wonderful work that is being done.

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