Home Office review over harassment at abortion clinics

New laws could be introduced to protect women from harassment outside abortion clinics, the Home Office has said.

An assessment of protests held outside clinics has been ordered by the home secretary, following concerns about the tactics used by some protesters - writes bbc.com.

Amber Rudd said it was "unacceptable" that anyone should feel intimidated for accessing healthcare.

But anti-abortion campaigners said it was "ludicrous" to suggest new powers, because women were not being harassed.

The Home Office review will hear from police forces, healthcare providers and local authorities to understand the scale and nature of anti-abortion protests.

It will then consider what further action the government could take to protect those using or working in abortion clinics.

This could include bolstering existing, or creating new, police and civil powers, the Home Office said.

'Cautious optimism'

Ms Rudd said: "While everyone has a right to peaceful protest, it is completely unacceptable that anyone should feel harassed or intimidated simply for exercising their legal right to healthcare advice and treatment.

"The decision to have an abortion is already an incredibly personal one, without women being further pressured by aggressive protesters."

She said the review would provide "firm recommendations" on action to tackle the problem.

The police already have a range of powers to manage protests, with the law providing protection against harassment and intimidation.

The Home Office said protesters were subject to the law and all suspected offences "will be robustly investigated".

Labour MP Rupa Huq, who has campaigned for a law change, welcomed the review with "cautious optimism".

In her Ealing Central and Acton constituency, the council backed a proposal in October that would ban protesters from gathering outside an abortion clinic.

The demonstrators, who hold daily vigils outside the clinic, deny harassing women.

Ms Huq said a radial zone to exclude protests within 150m was needed, banning silent praying, singing hymns, displaying foetus images and leaflet distribution.

"The complete anonymity of women seeking terminations should be protected as one would expect with any other NHS procedure," she said.

But Antonia Tully, director of campaigns at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: "It is completely ludicrous to suggest introducing new powers to stop small numbers of peaceful people praying outside abortion clinics and offering leaflets to women.

"Women are not being harassed.

"Pro-life counsellors cannot force a woman not to have an abortion."

She said the presence of vigils can be a "lifesaver" for women under pressure to abort.

Policing minister Nick Hurd has written to the national policing lead for protest, Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann to begin the work.

The review will be conducted by Home Office officials and will also consider international comparisons in Australia, France and the US.

Read also more news of London here.

abortionclinics London
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in december
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Protesters will march through central London for a pro-Brexit rally backed by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and Ukip's leader. Several thousand people are expected to descend on the streets of the capital this Sunday to demand that there is no “betrayal” over Britain’s exit from the European Union. The rally will take place just three days before parliament’s crucial vote on Theresa May's deal. Almost 4,000 people have said they are going o...
Society
Westminster council has launched an inquiry into discrimination and “body-shaming” at nightclubs in the heart of the capital. Officials have revealed a “task group” has been created to look into the problem following recent reports of discriminatory door policies, including at exclusive clubs in areas such as Mayfair. Body image and anti-discrimination campaigners today welcomed the move after a series of cases of alleged racism and “fat-shaming” were high...
Society
A teenager has been stabbed to death in south-east London. Police were called at about 21:40 GMT to Topham House in Prior Street, Greenwich, following reports a man was unresponsive after being stabbed. The 18-year-old died at the scene. A 17-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the death and taken to a police station for questioning. More than 120 murder investigations have been launched across London this year. Image captionPolice have cordo...
Society
Thames Water said the Beast from the East and summer heatwave had an impact on its ability to meet leakage targets as it reported interim pre-tax profits crashing to £67.7 million from £218.5 million a year ago. The water company also revealed the extreme weather sent complaints soaring as it battled supply interruptions, with written customer complaints jumping to 11,083 in the half-year to September 30 from 8,242 a year earlier. Thames Water was ordered...
Society
A British tourist has gone missing in New Zealand, sparking an international appeal for help from her family. Grace Millane was last seen in Auckland on Saturday night (Dec 1), and has not been in contact with her family since - despite her 22nd birthday being on Sunday. Her family, from Basildon in Essex, have alerted the British Embassy in New Zealand and reported her missing to police in Auckland, as well as sharing 'missing' posters on social media. De...
Society
The main reason for sickness absence in the London Fire Brigade is now stress, anxiety and depression, Commissioner Dany Cotton has said. LFB has seen a "small increase" in the number of days taken off as sick leave over the last three years, Ms Cotton, the brigade's most senior firefighter, said. It is the first time mental health has been the leading cause of the absences, she told the London Assembly on Thursday. LFB employed four extra counsellors foll...
Incidents
A 77-year-old woman who collapsed while calling police to report a burglary at her home is critically ill in hospital. She dialled 999 on Monday to report intruders had forced their way into her home in Bells Hill, High Barnet, north-east London, and stolen property. During the call, the police operator heard her collapse. Paramedics arrived and she was taken to hospital, where her family remains at her bedside. Scotland Yard said its Homicide and Major Cr...
Society
A medieval skeleton wearing a pair of thigh-high leather boots has been found during excavations for London's new sewer. The skeleton was discovered face down in mud at the Chambers Wharf site in Bermondsey during work to create the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Archaeologists believe the man may have died during the late 15th Century while carrying out work near the river. MOLA Headland Infrastructure said it was a "rare" and "fascinating" find. The consortium i...
Society
Christmas lights in an upmarket shopping street were taken down after just three days by council inspectors who branded them a “death trap”. The decorations were put up in Primrose Hill by Jonny Bucknell, the son of the UK’s first DIY television star Barry Bucknell, with a switch-on ceremony on Sunday by model Jo Wood, ex-wife of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie, and singer-songwriter Collette Cooper. But on Wednesday, Camden council bosses removed and impo...