Campaigners in UK take first step in bid to challenge abortion clinic protest ban

Campaigners in UK take first step in bid to challenge abortion clinic protest ban
Alina Dulgheriu, 34, a representative for campaign group Be Here For Me, with her six-year-old daughter Sarah, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, after filing a High Court challenge against Ealing council over a ban on protesting outside a Marie Stopes clinic. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Campaigners have taken the first step in a bid to take a council to court over a ban on demonstrations outside a UK abortion clinic.

Ealing Council was the first in the country to create a protest-free safe zone outside a Marie Stopes clinic in the west London borough.

Alina Dulgheriu, a representative for campaign group Be Here For Me, was at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London today to start the legal process to fight the authority's decision.

The group describes the High Court move as being against a "censorship zone" which "criminalises prayer and support" outside the clinic - arguing that it violates the human rights of residents and visitors, including the right to freedom of speech and prayer.

It says the challenge launched by Ms Dulgheriu, "who was supported by a pro-life vigil" outside an abortion clinic, was being brought to "ensure that the vital support options that pro-life vigils provide to women outside Ealing clinic are available again as soon as practically possible".

Ms Dulgheriu, 34, said she was offered financial, practical and moral help, as well as accommodation, and now has a "beautiful" six-year-old daughter.

The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) came into force on Monday after reports of "intimidation, harassment and distress" for women using the clinic on Mattock Lane.

John Hansen-Brevetti, clinical operations manager at the clinic, said women had been told the ghost of their foetus would haunt them, had been told "mummy, mummy, don't kill me", had holy water thrown on them and rosary beads thrust at them.

Alina Dulgheriu, 34, a representative for campaign group Be Here For Me, with her six-year-old daughter Sarah, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, after filing a High Court challenge against Ealing council over a ban on protesting outside a Marie Stopes clinic. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Alina Dulgheriu, 34, a representative for campaign group Be Here For Me, with her six-year-old daughter Sarah, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, after filing a High Court challenge against Ealing council over a ban on protesting outside a Marie Stopes clinic. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

After filing case papers at the High Court, Ms Dulgheriu said: "Without sufficient justification, Ealing Council has decided to criminalise otherwise lawful behaviour, to criminalise charitable activity that is needed by some of the most vulnerable women in our society.

"I am asking that justice be done for those women who have been ignored by Ealing Council."

She said: "I never expected a local council in the UK to make a decision that violates so many human rights; the right to free speech, the right to pray, the right to receive information and the right to assemble.

As an immigrant who loves so many of your traditions, I never expected to have to defend the rights that keep a healthy British democracy alive.

She said: "I cannot put into words the joy, the beauty and the love that my daughter has brought to my life.

"She would not be with us today if it weren't for the vigils that Ealing Council has criminalised."

Elsewhere, The LoveBoth campaign has said that the only way to prevent Ireland’s abortion laws becoming like those in Britain is to vote No on May 25.

LoveBoth was commenting at an awareness event held to mark the 50th Anniversary of the coming into force of the Abortion Act 1967 in the UK.

Campaigners in UK take first step in bid to challenge abortion clinic protest ban

Speaking at the event, LoveBoth spokesperson Clare McCarthy said:

“Today is a sad day for Britain where over 8 million babies have lost their lives to abortion since the Abortion Act came into force. In 1967, the public were told that the legislation being introduced was ‘restrictive’.

"Instead, the abortion rate has climbed ever since and today in Britain." The Save the 8th campaign asserts that 1 in every 5 pregnancies in the UK ends in abortion.

“Much like politicians in 1967, Minister Harris has called his abortion plan ‘restrictive’ but the experience in Britain proves that there is no such thing as ‘restrictive’ abortion. The Irish public deserves to know that what Minister Harris has in store for us is even more extreme than the law currently existing in Britain.

"It would introduce abortion on demand up to 3 months, and in vague, undefined circumstances thereafter. There is no similar provision in the current British law.”

Ms. McCarthy was joined at the event by supporters of LoveBoth, and by Caren Hallahan, a nurse who worked in Australia where abortion is legal.

Ms. McCarthy concluded:

“We have a chance to learn from the mistakes of countries like Britain where babies’ lives are ended in such huge numbers. The only way to stop abortion on demand coming into Ireland is to Vote No on May 25.”

- PA

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