COUNCIL MOTION OPPOSES INTIMIDATION OF WOMEN AT ABORTION CLINICS – “Protests causing distress to residents and staff”

No woman should face intimidation when seeking support from clinics offering abortion services as laid out in the Abortion Act 1967, says a motion which Lambeth councilors will vote on – but not debate – at a full council meeting next Wednesday.

The motion also says: “Protests outside three abortion clinics in Lambeth are causing unwarranted distress to residents and staff working at the clinics.

“In recent years regular demonstrations have taken place outside Lambeth’s three health clinics providing abortion services from Marie Stopes or BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) in Waterloo, Brixton and Streatham.

“These protests often involve graphic imagery and false medical information that many women seeking to access services at this site, as well as residents in the area and staff working at the clinics, have found intimidating and distressing.

“This council believes: That the right to protest and freedom of speech are important, and that there are strongly held views on both sides of the abortion debate.

A proposed Conservative amendment to this paragraph amends it to read: “This council believes: That the right to protest and freedom of speech are important fundamental rights, and that there are strongly held views on both sides of the abortion debate.”

And the Conservatives have added a new paragraph to the motion which reads: No peaceful protest or free expression or free assembly taking place within the requirements of law should be prevented by this council, including peaceful trade union protests.
 
Conservative opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs told News From Crystal Palace: “We didn’t see it as a question on abortion, but the one-party state trying to give itself new powers to control protests.

“Conservatives don’t like the Left trying to control Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly, whether it is anti-abortionists, trade unions or anyone else.

“Everyone has the right to protest, whether we agree with them or not, and that right is circumscribed by law.

“Fundamental human rights should not be ignored on a whim, as has happened with the demolition of people’s homes in Lambeth, and taking away their secure tenancies.

“It is always the Left that has a problem with freedom of expression – they always agree with the idea of free speech, but it has to be the ‘right kind’ of free speech… “This motion is brainless Lefty virtue-signalling.”

The full motion – which has no proposer’s name on it at the time of publishing – reads as follows:

Ending harassment of women, residents and staff at health centres

This council notes:

That in recent years regular demonstrations have taken place outside Lambeth’s three health clinics providing abortion services from Marie Stopes or BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) in Waterloo, Brixton and Streatham.

These protests often involve graphic imagery and false medical information that many women seeking to access services at this site, as well as residents in the area and staff working at the clinics, have found intimidating and distressing.

This council believes:

That the right to protest and freedom of speech are important, and that there are strongly held views on both sides of the abortion debate.

But no woman should face intimidation when seeking support from clinics offering abortion services as laid out in the Abortion Act 1967.

That these protests are furthermore causing unwarranted distress to residents and staff working at these clinics.

This council resolves:

To condemn the intimidation taking place at these sites, particularly those targeted at intimidating women seeking to use services at health clinics in Waterloo, Brixton and Streatham.

To call on Lambeth to urgently explore every possible option and will take all necessary actions within its powers to prevent anti-abortion protestors from intimidating and harassing women and staff, as well as causing distress to Lambeth residents.

To call on Lambeth to explore as part of its approach the implementation of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which can be used to ban protests within 100 metres of defined sites with fines of up to £1,000 if this area is breached.

To call on Lambeth to urgently explore every possible option and will take all necessary actions within its powers to prevent anti-abortion protestors from intimidating and harassing women and staff, as well as causing distress to Lambeth residents.

Another part of the Conservative amendment changes this paragraph to:
 
To call on Lambeth to urgently explore every possible option and take all necessary actions within its powers to prevent protestors from intimidating and harassing anyone.

and deletes the paragraph reading:

To call on Lambeth to explore as part of its approach the implementation of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which can be used to ban protests within 100 metres of defined sites with fines of up to £1,000 if this area is breached.

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2 thoughts on “COUNCIL MOTION OPPOSES INTIMIDATION OF WOMEN AT ABORTION CLINICS – “Protests causing distress to residents and staff”

  1. What utter nonsense. Freedom of expression doesn’t equate to the right to intimidate vulnerable women at a hugely difficult time of their lives, nor to supply them with false “information” saying their long-term health will be threatened by pregnancy termination. Nobody is proposing to ban protests against abortion, just to stop them happening outside the clinics where they’re being performed as it’s so obviously inappropriate (to anyone with an ounce of empathy at least, which clearly doesn’t describe these Conservative councillors). Yet again, we have some super right-wing, pompous fools bandying about the term “virtue signalling”, which is invariably alt-right speak for “doing the decent thing”.

    I very much hope this motion gets voted through as is; it’s long overdue.

    • Georgia thank you for your response. You can see from our amendment that we do not want anyone to be harassed anywhere, outside abortion clinics or anywhere else, such as outside Labour-Lambeth council meetings. But I suspect you have already decided that we lack empathy etc etc.

      If we followed your reasoning we would all end up unable to go out and unable to say anything that you disagreed with. Free speech is not about the ‘right’ kind of free speech, and freedom of assembly is not about the ‘right’ people being able to assemble. It is about tolerating other views, finding a balance, listening and respecting other people’s opinions and ideas, and having laws that enable us all to find common ground going forward so we can al live together. This motion doesn’t find that balance, however worthy its intention.

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