Ealing vote pursues buffer zone, SPUC calls for a response
17 January 2018
Ealing Council leader Julian Bell (Labour) supported buffer zones
Ealing Council cabinet unanimously voted to begin a public consultation on introducing a public space protection order (PSPO) to stop pro-life vigils outside Ealing's Marie Stopes (MSI) clinic.
Following the vote, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has urged people to make very clear to Ealing Council, via the upcoming public consultation, that prolife groups should not be prevented from helping pregnant women to keep their babies. SPUC said that "the decision by Ealing Council to hold a public consultation means it is more important than ever that those who support prolife vigils speak out against those seeking to deny women help, and to undermine freedom of speech."
Women like Joaquina may no longer find help (Good Counsel Network)
Buffer zone helps MSI, not women
Appearing on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday, MSI's John Hansen-Brevetti claimed that women who didn't enter the Ealing clinic (due to the "protesters") were "just going to clinics elsewhere". The Good Counsel Network's Clare McCullough had already corrected that statement in an earlier radio appearance, pointing out that "hundreds" of women had accepted assistance from the Good Counsel Network (GCN), and "most of the women we've helped were in Ealing". Mrs McCullough affirmed that a ban of pro-life vigils would support the business interests of the MSI clinic, who "have lost about 13% of their clientele in the last year, that [GCN] have figures for."
"They don't know to what extent women are turning round because of our help. We do know that large numbers of women are turning around because of the help that's being offered, because we're seeing many of them come into our Women's Centre."
The MSI clinic's treatment of women was also called into question, with reference to damning reviews on the NHS Choices website and past experiences of post-abortive women who now support the Good Counsel Network. Marie Stopes was condemned in a Care Quality Coommission report less than six months ago, for a whole host of abuses and safety failings.
Rating on the NHS Choices website from a woman who experienced the Marie Stopes "cattle market"
Pro-life vigils are conducted lawfully and respectfully
During his airtime, John Hansen-Brevetti continues to repeat unsubstantiated claims against the Good Counsel Network, including physically blocking access to the clinic. In an almost comical moment of the radio interview, Clare McCullough was asked to confirm or deny these assertions:
"So, you don't shut the gate on them?"
"No we don't find that very helpful in reaching women to try and offer them alternatives."
Antonia Tully, Director of Campaigns at SPUC has said, "We must be very clear that there is absolutely no harassment or intimidation by pro-life groups taking place outside MSI in Ealing. Pro-life vigils are always conducted within the law and to the highest standards of respect and sensitivity to every women entering the abortion clinic. No evidence whatsoever has been produced which shows that Good Counsel Network, who organise the vigils, have ever intimidated the women they are trying to assist. Moreover numerous women are on record as stating that Good Counsel Network helped them to keep their babies."
Calling for the support of "all who care about pregnant women", Mrs Tully appeals to Ealing Council to allow life-saving help to continue for vulnerable women entering the MSI abortion clinic in the borough, adding, "Peaceful, prayerful pro-life vigils must continue to offer help to desperate women coming to MSI. Many women are ambivalent about abortion and the presence of groups such as the Good Counsel Network offers a lifeline to such women".
Mrs Tully urged people to participate in the upcoming public consultation in order to protect people's right to help women, noting that freedom of speech is threatened by a dishonest campaign fronted by an abortion industry and aggressive groups which seek to intimidate peaceful vigils.
News in brief: