Right To Life is criticising the decision yesterday evening by Ealing Council to impose Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) on the area around a Marie Stopes abortion facility in their Borough, in order to stop peaceful vigils by pro-life groups.
This decision was brought forward by claims that pro-life protestors were harassing women, based on naked hearsay provided by abortion lobby groups, but unsubstantiated by any photographic or videographic evidence.
Given the existing laws to address harassment, this decision is utterly unnecessary, and introduces a bad precedent in the use of PSPOs to chill speech that Councils dislike, or that lobby groups work hard enough to vilify. RTL believes this decision should be reversed, and if there is any abusive behaviour it can and should be dealt with by the police using existing powers.
RTL Executive Officer, Peter D. Williams, said:
‘This is a disgraceful decision by Ealing Council. They have imposed limitations on freedom of speech on the basis of nothing more than hearsay by abortion lobbyists. Speaking as someone who has been critical of certain forms of pro-life protest, but who has attended vigils by groups like 40 Days For Life, and seen the genuine compassion and kind intentions of the people involved, it is clear that they are being slandered and libelled
We hope that there will be a legal challenge to this move by Ealing Council, assuming the decision is not reversed by then, that will establish a legal precedent stopping PSPOs from being abused to chill the freedoms of speech and protest that everyone should enjoy’.