In this country we rely on Parliament to pass laws which the Government enacts, the police supervise, and courts enforce as the best way to protect rights and allow peaceful protest.
The failure of the home secretary to implement Parliament’s decision to impose safe areas known as ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics is creating problems.
I accept that those who disagree with the law on abortion have a right to protest but they aren’t entitles to intimidate staff or users of clinics providing such services, nor should they be allowed to harass local communities.
I’ve been listening to my constituents who live near to a clinic which provides family planning and offers terminations. They are subject to regular protests by an anti-abortion group.
The protests involve asking personal questions of those trying to use the clinic, forcing anti- abortion material into the hands of schoolchildren, and disrupting residents in their own neighbourhood.
In September 2022, Birmingham council acceded to demands for a Public Space Protection Order around the vicinity of the clinic. It was an interim measures, designed to limit protests so that others could go about their lawful business.
No sooner was it in place than the director of the anti-abortion group was arrested for a breach… but used the defence she was “silently praying” rather than protesting.
Her organisation is supported by an American group who recently overturned abortion laws in the USA, denying American women the right to a legal abortion. They plan to do the same here.
One way the government could clear this up is to implement a clause in its Public Order Bill, backed by a majority of MPs of all parties. It would provide safe ‘buffer zones’ around such clinics where protestors would not be allowed.
The home secretary voted against them and has so far failed to implement the measures. It isn’t right that a minority, American backed, fundamentalist anti- abortion group can impose their will on my constituents. It’s time the Home Secretary acted in the public interest and introduced ‘buffer zones’ around these clinics.