Abortion clinic censorship zones bill fails to pass at Second Reading

A radical abortion clinic censorship zone bill brought forward by Rupa Huq MP has failed to pass through the Commons at its Second Reading today.

The Bill would have introduced censorship zones around abortion clinics in England and Wales but failed to pass after an objection from a fellow MP stopped the Bill from proceeding. 

Censorship zones would criminalise the offering of practical and emotional support to women entering abortion clinics across England and Wales, bringing a possible prison sentence of up to two years for those who offer support to women within 150 metres of abortion clinics.

In 2017, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd launched a review into the scale and nature of pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics to establish if the Government would recommend the introduction of censorship zones. In the investigation continued by the succeeding Home Secretary Sajid Javid, over 2,500 responded to a call for evidence, including abortion service providers, abortion service clients, those engaging in anti-abortion demonstrations, police forces and local authorities.

In 2018, Sajid Javid announced that the Home Office could not find adequate reason to introduce censorship zones, stating that: “…introducing national buffer zones would not be a proportionate response, considering the experiences of the majority of hospitals and clinics, and considering that the majority of activities are more passive in nature. In making my decision, I am also aware that legislation already exists to restrict protest activities that cause harm to others.”

Opposition to censorship zones extends beyond pro-life advocates to unite a large part of society, which may not agree with the pro-life position on abortion but opposes censorship zones as a threat to freedom of speech.

Despite supporting abortion, a number of prominent human rights groups and campaigners have spoken out against the introduction of censorship zones. This includes Peter Tatchell, the Manifesto Club, Big Brother Watch, Index on Censorship and the Freedom Association.

The Be Here for Me website highlights just a few of the many stories of women who have been helped by people outside abortion clinics, and the stories of women who could miss out on such support in the future. 

One mother, who kept her daughter as a result of the pro-life support she received outside an abortion clinic in Ealing, will soon challenge the designation of ‘criminalised free speech zones’ at the European Court of Human Rights.

Alina Dulgheriu launched the legal challenge so that other pregnant women could receive the same practical and emotional support she was offered – support which ultimately led to her keeping her daughter, Sarah.

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:“Today brings the good news that this radical abortion clinic censorship bill has failed to pass through the Commons. This is often the case with Ten Minute Rule Bills however the extreme changes proposed in this particular Bill were very worrying.

Sadly, this is unlikely to be the last we hear from the abortion lobby. While this Bill is very unlikely to become law, the abortion lobby will likely be back very soon with their next attempt to criminalise support outside abortion clinics.

“By attempting to restrict women facing unplanned pregnancies from receiving compassionate emotional and practical support, the ‘pro-choice’ lobby reveal their opposition to real choice for women and revealing they’re really just pro-abortion.

“Many babies are alive today because their mothers were able to receive the help they needed outside of an abortion clinic.

Action alert – Ask your MP to support the Abortion (Cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot) Bill

Stand up and smile campaign

You may have seen this morning in a number of media outlets that a cross-party group of MPs from the three largest parties in the UK Parliament have come together to launch the Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate and Clubfoot) Bill.

The Bill will change the law to clarify that cleft palate, cleft lip, and clubfoot are not grounds for abortion in the UK.

This morning we have launched the Stand Up and Smile campaign to support this Bill and raise awareness about the wider issue of abortion being allowed up to birth for babies with disabilities.

Please click the button below to visit the campaign page and ask your MP to support the Abortion (Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate and Clubfoot) Bill. It only takes 30 seconds.

Once you have emailed your MP, please do let friends and family know to email their MP.

If you receive a reply from your MP confirming whether they will support the Bill or not, it would be very helpful, if you are comfortable with sharing it with us, to send on the reply to us. This will help us with knowing which MPs support the Bill.

Thank you for your help on this.

Update and action alert for people living in Northern Ireland

The British Government have now brought forward rewritten abortion regulations for Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, they have only made some minor unsubstantial changes to fix some small drafting errors. So we are still dealing with the same extreme abortion regulations.

The new rewritten regulations will be voted on in the Commons and the Lords, we expect this to happen at some stage in June.

DOWN’S SYNDROME CAMPAIGNER’S BRAVE INTERVENTION

You may have read in the media about the brave intervention made by Heidi Crowter, the 24-year-old disability campaigner who has spoken out against the British Government imposing on Northern Ireland abortion up to birth in cases of disabilities like Heidi’s own, Down’s syndrome. This has been picked up in the media across the UK and also internationally including a very good segment from one of Sky News Australia’s key commentators.

Heidi has written to the Party Leaders at Stormont within the last week, asking them to take action and do everything they can to oppose abortion on the basis of disability up to birth. She said: “Please do not let a law come into practice which will end lives on the basis of disability and stop people like me coming into the world.”

TAKE ACTION

Now that the Assembly is meeting two days a week it’s vital for MLAs to press their Party Leaders and Chief Whips for time to be set aside for an urgent debate and vote on a motion that demonstrates to Heidi and other people with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, that Northern Ireland opposes any move to allow babies with Down’s syndrome to be aborted up until birth. 

While this will not change the law at this stage, it will send a very important message to the British Government and MPs who are due to vote on these regulations in June.

The British Government announced on 25 March that it was imposing on Northern Ireland abortion on the basis of disability up to birth. In the last week, the Assembly found time to debate Regulations relating to electric pedal cycles but still has not deemed it appropriate to find time to distance itself from the British Government’s extreme abortion regime which has been imposed on Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is the voice of the people of Northern Ireland. Their silence on this matter to date has been deafening. 

If you live in Northern Ireland, please click the button below to email your local MLAs asking them to seek an urgent debate and vote on a resolution on this matter. It only takes 30-seconds.

Thank you for your help on this.

Northern Ireland abortion regulations to be rewritten

The Government have announced that they will be rewriting the Northern Ireland abortion regulations which were going to be voted on by MPs tomorrow. This means that a vote on the regulations will not be happening tomorrow.

Many thanks to all of you who have emailed your MP on this issue, asking them to vote against the regulations.

Unfortunately, it is now expected that the Government will shortly re-table the regulations, with only minor unsubstantial changes. There will then be a further twenty-eight-day window for the Government to organise a vote on the regulations, meaning that we will be facing a vote on the regulations within that time period. 

Sadly abortions will still be able to happen in Northern Ireland throughout this period.

The positive development here is that this delay means that we now have more time to persuade MPs and Peers to reject the regulations ahead of a vote, so if you have not emailed your MP yet, please do so by clicking the button below. 

If you have emailed your MP, this extra time provides an opportunity for you to encourage more friends and family to write to their MPs.

Thank you for your help on this. We’ll be keeping you updated as the situation develops on this.