Anti-abortion clinic protesters lose appeal

Protesters were frequently seen outside the clinic

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Anti-abortion campaigners have lost an appeal over a ban on protesting outside a women’s health clinic in Ealing.

Ealing Council in west London last year became the first council in the country to create a “buffer zone” around an abortion clinic.

It said there had been reports of “intimidation, harassment and distress” from women using the facility.

Alina Dulgheriu and Andrea Orthova from the Christian group Good Counsel Network (GCN) argued the ban interfered with their freedom of expression and belief and mounted a legal challenge.

They lost the original challenge in July 2018, and have now lost an appeal.

When dismissing the original case Mr Justice Turner said there was “substantial evidence” clinic users had their privacy invaded while they were “most vulnerable and sensitive to uninvited attention”.

While delivering judgement, the three appeal judges said that for a number of years members of the GCN had camped outside the Marie Stopes clinic, usually on a daily basis.

They said the original decision which created a “safe zone” and allowed for a separate nearby protest zone was a “proportionate response”.

Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the ruling and said “a woman's right to choose, free from intimidation or harassment, must be protected”.

The GCN said Mr Corbyn was “gleefully” supporting a “ban on silent prayer”.

“We actually offer them [women considering an abortion] help and support. But don't expect to hear that in the media,” it said.

Managing director of Marie Stopes UK, Richard Bentley, said it was a “victory for common sense”.

“Anti-abortion groups who gather outside clinics have a detrimental impact on women, our team members and residents,” he said.

“We believe in the right to assembly, expression and to practise your religion, but this should never be at the expense of a woman's right to legal healthcare.”

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