Ealing council plan to ban peaceful pro-life vigils ‘ a dark day’ for Britain, democracy and freedom of speech
2 April 2018
The world’s oldest pro-life group, the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, has condemned proposals by Ealing Council to stop campaigners staging peaceful protests outside abortion clinics.
The local authority meets next week to consider the plan.
Speaking in advance of the council meeting Antonia Tully, SPUC director of campaigns said: "It will be a very dark day for Britain if Ealing Council next week decides to introduce a Public Space Protection Order around the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Mattock Lane, Ealing.
"A measure to prevent peaceful, prayerful people from standing quietly near the entrance of the abortion clinic in order to offer help to vulnerable women, strikes at the heart of the freedoms we enjoy in this country.
"What is so terrible about offering women last-minute help as they approach the abortion clinic? Every year, hundreds of women take advantage of this help. Hundreds of children are alive today because their mother encountered the Good Counsel Network outside the clinic.
"As different councils around the country, including Ealing, have debated this issue, we have heard false statements about harassment and intimidation from those taking part in pro-life vigils. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people who take part in pro-life vigils have neither capacity for nor inclination to aggressive or coercive behaviour. And critically there is no evidence that any such behaviour has occurred.
"We sincerely hope that Ealing Council throws out the proposal to introduce a PSPO in Mattock Lane. We hope that this Council takes a lead from the Judge Owen who recently threw out a case against a pro-life vigil leader in Nottingham, saying that there was no legal basis for preventing the pro-life vigil from taking place.
"We urge Ealing Council to look honestly at why women feel upset and vulnerable at the prospect of having an abortion and why pro-life help is vital for women.
"Worldwide, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a strong risk factor for abortion. A WHO multi-country study found that women with a history of IPV had increased odds of unintended pregnancy and almost three times the risk of abortion. In a study of London clinics, there was a six times higher rate of IPV in women undergoing abortions compared with women receiving antenatal care . This means that a percentage of the women entering abortion clinics are already the victims of physical, emotional and psychological abuse, with all the negative feelings associated with this.
"A pro-life vigil offers these vulnerable women a lifeline to come out of abusive relationships. Crisis pregnancy organisations are able to help such women turn their lives around for the better.
"The decision to have an abortion is far more complex than simply not intending to become pregnant. Studies show that a variety of factors is involved in an abortion decision, including relationship problems, pressure from partners and family members, financial difficulties and lack of community support.
"A pro-life vigil offers a woman an opportunity to assess whether aborting her baby will solve those problems. A simple leaflet offered at a pro-life vigil can direct a woman to a pro-life organisation which will help her.
"If Ealing Council introduces a PSPO in Mattock Lane, it will be remembered as the first council to forbid peaceful public acts of witness and freedom of expression, acts historically so highly prized by the British public and for which millions sacrificed their lives in two world wars.
"If Ealing Council imposes a ban on pro-life vigils in Mattock Lane,it will be responsible for escalating the war against unborn babies and their vulnerable mothers. A war which history will surely judge very harshly.
"A PSPO in Mattock Lane Ealing would be a blatant attack on people of faith who are mandated by their religion to offer help to those in need and to speak out against injustice.
"Abortion is the deliberate taking of an unborn child's life. The pro-life movement in Britain will not be silenced by Ealing Council."
Notes to editors:
- 1) Wokoma TT, Jampala M, Bexhell H, Guthrie K & Lindow S (2014) A comparative study of the prevalence of domestic violence in women requesting a termination of pregnancy and those attending an antenatal clinic. BJOG 121:627-633
Bankole A, Singh S & Taylor H (1998) Reasons why women have induced abortions: evidence form 27 countries. International Family Planning Perspectives 24 (3): 117-152
Kirkman M, Rowe H, Hardiman A & Rosenthal D (2011) Abortion is a difficult solution to a problem: A discursive analysis of interviews with women considering or undergoing abortion in Australia. Women’s Studies International Forum 34¨121-129
For further information, contact Antonia Tully, Campaign Director, SPUC on Mob: 07926 007175
Issued on behalf of SPUC by
Tom Hamilton Communications:
- Mob: 07836 603977
- Tel: 0141 639 8355