Mayor of London reiterates his support for buffer zones to prevent pro-life support

The Mayor of London has reiterated his support for so-called ‘buffer zones’ which prevent pro-life help from being offered outside abortion clinics.

Noting the case of the country’s first arrest for praying in public outside an abortion clinic, London Assembly Member David Kurton asked Sadiq Khan what his thoughts were and whether such actions should be criminalised.

In response, Sadiq showed some hesitation, particularly around criminalising prayer, but outlined his full support of the Ealing Council’s ‘buffer zone’, saying: “I do not know about the facts of the case, and as somebody who himself prays, I would find it objectionable if somebody else is not allowed to pray or is criminalised. 

“That is not saying anything about the facts of that case, which I just do not know about, but I think we have to be quite clear. There is a very good reason and a very sensible reason why the council supported those women and others in relation to this buffer zone. You are right, I fully support this buffer zone outside this clinic.”

However, in 2017, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee heard that there was no probative evidence to suggest women were being harassed outside abortion facilities, whether in Ealing, Portsmouth, Birmingham, or elsewhere in the country.

In contrast, the Be Here for Me website tells just some of the many stories of women who have been helped by people outside abortion clinics.

The website, setup by mothers who offer pro-life help outside abortion clinics, outlines reasons to oppose ‘buffer zones’ amidst continued pressure from the UK’s largest abortion provider to introduce them out to all abortion clinics.

This isn’t the first time the Labour mayor has outlined his support for ‘buffer zones’.

In a statement read out at City Hall, Sadiq said: “I am very supportive of local authorities using enforcement tools at their disposal in an appropriate and targeted way and this is a good example of a local solution.”

He has claimed, in 2018, that those living in London would be “deeply disappointed” over the then Home Secretary’s decision not to roll out ‘buffer zones’ nationwide.

Sadiq finds himself entirely out of step with the views of those he is supposed to represent, given a recent Onward poll revealing London to be the most pro-life region of the country. More broadly only 1% of the population want abortion to be available up to birth and over 70% of women want the abortion limit to be reduced to 20 weeks or lower.

Despite this, Sadiq has continued to use his platform to push his extreme abortion views on the people of London.

Last year, he expressed his support for the pro-abortion group Abortion Rights and gave their countermarch to the UK’s March for Life his “full backing”. During the march, abortion activists chanted “we need abortions” while abortion survivor Melissa Ohden, was attempting to speak on stage:

(Image credit: Shutterstock: ID #474126064)

‘Abortion skills’ training could be forced upon pro-life students in the UK

Pro-life medical students who want to protect unborn babies from terminations could be forced to learn “abortion skills” under new proposals.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has released a report stating its intention to teach and assess “abortion skills” as part of its core curriculum but made no mention of any provision for conscientious objection.

In its Better for Women report, the College says “the General Medical Council (GMC) should review the Undergraduate medical curriculum to include the importance of abortion care to students.

“The RCOG will teach abortion skills as a part of its core curriculum and assess those skills through examination.”

All doctors who practise medicine in the UK must be registered with the GMC, meaning if the proposals are adopted, pro-life medical students could be forced to sit through undefined “abortion skills” training or risk losing their membership of the medical body.

In 2016, an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group found that UK doctors who do not wish to participate in abortion procedures are often refused the right to conscientious objection.

Fiona Bruce MP, who chairs the APPG, said: “This report reveals concerning evidence of doctors and other healthcare professionals being harassed, abused, and denied career choices, as a result of seeking to exercise their legal right to conscientiously object to being involved in the abortion process.”

Later that year, it emerged only 1% of trainee obstetricians and gynaecologists were taking higher training in abortion.

The document also outlines other extreme proposals:

  • A commitment to continue working with partner organisations [likely abortion clinics such as BPAS and Marie Stopes International] to advocate for the decriminalisation of abortion up to 24 weeks across the UK (page 16).
  •  The rollout of ‘facetime abortions’ across the UK allowing abortion consultations to take place over the phone or Facetime/Skype, rather than face-to-face (page 149).
  • The Government should “consider allowing” women to take the first powerful drug used to cause a non-surgical abortion at home, away from medical supervision and oversight. The second drug is already allowed to be taken at home (page 15).
  • Governments throughout the UK “must legislate” to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics – which will prevent pro-life help from being offered to those who need it most (page 16).

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists claims its proposals are ‘Better for women’ through its title, but the reality is the opposite.

“The RCOG’s report, with its misleading title, makes a number of troubling proposals that are worse, not just for women and unborn babies, but also for medical students.   

“The extremely low number of trainee obstetricians and gynaecologists who were taking higher training in abortion likely reflects an innate human reluctance to destroy life. Such doctors should continue to have their rights to conscientiously object to abortions protected.   

 “Rather, this is another attempt to trivialise the ending of a life and to rush women and teenage girls through the abortion process, while providing less medical supervision and support for women. 

“The RCOG should instead address the reasons women seek out abortion services in such high numbers in this country, often because of; vulnerability, isolation, lack of financial or emotional support, or pressure from a partner. Simply rushing women through the abortion process does nothing to address the problems these women already face and would only later compound these issues if coupled with post-abortion regret. 

“The only people who would benefit from these changes are the UK’s two big abortion providers.

“This is a reckless approach to healthcare. Women’s safety and mental or physical health should never be potentially compromised for the sake of expediency or convenience.” 

Court of appeal upholds censorship zone outside abortion centre criminalising speech, assembly and charitable support

The Court of Appeal has upheld a censorship zone outside of an abortion centre in Ealing, London. The appellant, Alina Dulgheriu, has said she will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Court found that the appellant’s rights to assembly, religion, thought, expression and the reception of information were violated by the Ealing Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). Nevertheless they ruled that such violations were justified because of the right to privacy of Marie Stopes attendees not to be seen in public.

Alina Dulgheriu, a mother who herself had been helped by a local vigil, unsuccessfully challenged the order at the High Court last July after Ealing Council introduced a censorship zone around the Marie Stopes abortion centre.

Alina said:

“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 going to appeal this decision to ensure that women in Ealing and all across the country do not have this vital support option removed.”

Alina has challenged the Ealing censorship zone because it prevents the help women need to escape an unwanted or coerced abortion. The broadly-worded Ealing PSPO criminalises, among other activities: any act whatsoever of approval or disapproval regarding abortion; prayer; handing out leaflets with an offer of practical support to women who wish to keep their child; ‘Interfering’ with a clinic user in any way whatsoever

Elizabeth Howard, Be Here For Me spokesperson said:

Eight years ago, Alina Dulgheriu found herself jobless, homeless and alone after an unplanned pregnancy. She’d been fired from her job as a live-in nanny and abandoned by her boyfriend. 

She went to Marie Stopes to get advice on her options, but all they could offer her was an abortion. She didn’t want that  but didn’t know where to turn.

Her life was changed when she met a pro-life volunteer at the gates of the abortion centre who told her that she did have options, that there was help available, and that she could keep her baby if she wanted.

She accepted the offer of help and her daughter Sarah was born. She is now seven years old, a beautiful, lively and beloved child.

Ealing Council has banned pro-lifers from helping women like Alina. Alina has challenged their decision in court, but twice the court have ignored her story.

In five years of the pro-life vigil’s work in Ealing, more than 500 women accepted an offer of help and chose to keep their baby rather than have an abortion. These women have tried again and again to have their voices heard, but they are ignored.

In today’s Appeal Court judgement, there is literally not a single sentence, not a single word, dedicated to the women who have been helped by the vigil, who are grateful for the vigil, and who have given the other side of the story.

This is a very sad day for vulnerable women.

Press Release: Commons Home Affairs Select Committee Shows Truth Of Pro-Life Abortion Vigils

This morning, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee heard from Ealing Councillors, abortion industry representatives, and right-to-life campaigners, on the issue of alleged harassment taking place outside abortion facilities.

The proceedings illustrated that there is currently no probative evidence that has been presented of harassment taking place outside abortion facilities, whether in Ealing, Portsmouth, Birmingham, or elsewhere in the country. All that is presented is hearsay by abortion lobby groups who claim to speak on behalf of women going for abortions.

Last week at Birmingham City Council, a Councillor for Edgbaston in Birmingham, despite being in favour of legalised abortion, also complained about the lack of any evidence of public order disturbance outside the abortion facility in her area.

A series of individuals and groups who have either an ideological support of abortion, or a material interest in stopping pro-life vigils, have alleged women telling them of upsetting experiences outside abortion vigils, but have provided no hard evidence of any such activity going on.

When invited by Clare McCullough of Good Counsel Network to give details that could be checked and thereby proved or falsified, Marie Stopes UK representative John Hansen-Brevitti demurred, needing to be supported by pro-abortion Select Committee Chairperson Yvette Cooper MP, who throughout her own remarks considered reports of subjective upset by anyone to be evidence of harassment. This instead of more objective criteria and substantive proof of the truth of such allegations.

Despite this dearth of evidence, abortion advocates on the Committee and in front of it tried to twist it in their favour. Rather than a lack of prosecution evidencing a lack of prosecutable behaviour, it was taken by them as evidence that the police did not have the powers or confidence to arrest genuinely harassing behaviour. When McCullough pointed out that shouting outside abortion facilities was from aggressive pro-abortion protesters ‘Sister Supporter’, Cooper took this as evidence that no group at all should be allowed outside abortion facilities, rather than just those who cause disturb public order.

By contrast, right-to-lifers McCullough and Antonia Tully pointed to the burden of proof on abortion advocates to substantiate their claims, and also offered alternative testimony from hundreds of women who have been positively affected by Good Counsel Network. Cooper ruled such evidence irrelevant.

The Committee hearing excellently showed the substance-less attempts by the abortion lobby to justify their illiberal aim of using draconian ‘buffer zones’, whether through locally-imposed Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) or national legislation, to chill free speech and the right to free assembly, both of which are guaranteed under Common Law and the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). It also showed the dignity and seriousness with which pro-life vigil organiser McCullough answered the falsehoods and misinterpretations put before her.

RTL Executive Officer Peter D. Williams said:

“The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee hearing his morning was very illustrative of the truth of this issue.

On the one hand, it exposed the utter lack of probative evidence that the abortion lobby has to justify its campaign to shut down pro-life vigils through illiberal buffer zones, imposed either locally or nationally. The lengths to which abortion advocates will go to close down their opposition is astonishing in its mendacity.

On the other hand, we saw the real story of what abortion vigils intend, and do. So far from being hostile and angry, they are loving and peaceful. They almost always are about offering help and practical support for women who would often actually like to keep their babies, but feel they have no option to do so. Such vigil keepers do not attack or shame women. Allegations that they try to force women to accept leaflets, or block entrances, or shout at women, are without  meaningful foundation.

More generally, the hearing also showed the need for us to have a serious discussion in this country about the importance of free speech and assembly vs. the purported right of people not to be offended. On university campuses as now outside abortion facilities, some politicians and groups are tying to shut down certain forms of activism, even charitable ones, on the basis that others will perceive them to be upsetting or harassing. That is a ludicrous notion, and could undermine our status as a free and open society.

One excellent way to maintain our liberal and democratic traditions is to oppose buffer zones and any effort like them that uses evidence-bereft and slanderous hearsay to dishonestly justify the closing down of peaceful vigils that simply try to help women who feel abortion is their only ‘choice’”.