Court of appeal to hear challenge to Ealing buffer zone
10 January 2019
Alina with her daughter Sarah outside the High Court.
"I refuse to accept that women should be denied the opportunity to receive help where they want to keep their child."
The Court of Appeal has granted permission to hear the challenge against Ealing Council in respect of its Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which bans peaceful pro-life vigils around the Marie Stopes abortion clinic.
Mother stands up for other vulnerable women
Alina Dulgheriu, a mother who was given support to keep her baby by a pro-life vigil outside an abortion clinic, launched legal action against the buffer zone in April last year. In July, the High Court accepted that her rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly had been infringed, but ultimately upheld Ealing’s PSPO.
Coming after Ms Dulgheriu successfully crowdfunded over £50,000 to fund the appeal, the Court of Appeals now says it will hear a challenge to the buffer zone.
Ealing Council were the first in the country to use a PSPO to ban peaceful pro-life activity, a move which civil liberties groups slammed as a "travesty for public freedoms". The ban prevents groups such as the Good Counsel Network praying and offering help to women outside the clinic, which it had been peacefully doing for 23 years.
The action of Ealing Council comes in the context of pro-abortion campaigners trying to silence pro-life people. They have worked to have many councils throughout the UK to consider restricting the freedom of speech and assembly of pro-lifers and endeavoured to have a national policy on creating so-called ‘Buffer Zones’ around abortion clinics.
Victory at a national level
However, the abortion lobby's push for buffer zones was checked in September when after a review into "protests" outside abortion clinics, the Home Office rejected the idea of introducing them nationwide. Despite the best efforts of the pro-abortion lobby to characterise peaceful pro-life vigils as violent protests where women are harassed, the review said that "the main activities reported to us that take place during protests include praying, displaying banners and handing out leaflets."
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that legislation would "not be a proportionate response", in what was hailed as "a massive victory for common sense, democracy and above all for the hundreds of vulnerable women who are saved from the horror of abortion at the very gates of the abortion clinic."
Women must not be denied vital help
Of the opportunity to appeal, Ms Dulgheriu said: "I am delighted that Court of Appeal will be reconsidering the very disappointing decision of the High Court. My little girl is here today because of the real practical and emotional support that I was given by a group outside a Marie Stopes centre, and I am continuing with this appeal to ensure that women in Ealing and all across the country do not have this vital support option removed.
She concluded: "I cannot imagine a society where a simple offer of help to a woman who might want to keep her child is seen as a criminal offence. I refuse to accept that women should be denied the opportunity to receive help where they want to keep their child."
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