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UK court upholds ‘buffer zone’ against pro-life vigils at abortion facilities

The buffer zone ruling chills free speech in the United Kingdom, critics said Wednesday.
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By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

August 23, 2019 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) — SPUC has condemned the decision of appeal judges to uphold the enforcement of a censorship zone around the Marie Stopes abortion clinic on Mattock Lane, Ealing.

In a decision issued Wednesday, Appeal Court judges rejected a challenge to a High Court ruling upholding Ealing Council's buffer zone around an abortion clinic.

"This is a tragic decision which dangerously infringes democracy and blocks women from receiving support from pro-life vigils" said John Deighan, SPUC's deputy chief executive officer.

John Deighan continued:

The verdict was imposed on the basis that a censorship zone was needed in order to protect Marie Stopes clinic users from 'harassment and intimidation.' Such false allegations are widely used in an attempt to vilify peaceful pro-life people, yet there have been no findings or prosecutions of intimidation and harassment concerning pro-life vigils in the United Kingdom.

The Ramifications Of Such A Ruling

Ealing Council initially enforced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) of 100 metres upon the area in April 2018, seeking to censor any pro-life support being offered to pregnant women. Richmond Council came next with their decision also to impose a PSPO which was enforced in February of this year. Several other councils are now following suit including Birmingham, Manchester, Portsmouth, Leeds and, in London, Lambeth and Southwark.

"This amounts to a growing attack on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly taking root in councils across the land", John Deighan continued.

"Whilst legal proceedings have also been launched against Richmond council concerning their abortion clinic buffer zone decision, today's ruling sets a troubling precedent."

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.


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