UK judge upholds ban on pro-life witness at London abortion center
LONDON, July 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — An English High Court judge has upheld a ban on pro-lifers’ freedom of speech outside a London abortion business even while acknowledging that it violates their “human rights.”
Today a judge dismissed Alina Dulgheriu’s challenge to a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) created by Ealing Council early this year to prevent any form of pro-life activity, including silent prayer, from taking place outside the infamous Marie Stopes Ealing clinic.
Although acknowledging that the PSPO interfered with the pro-life witnesses’ “human rights,” Mr Justice Turner said that the local government was “entitled” to impose it.
He stated that “there was substantial evidence that a very considerable number of users of the clinic reasonably felt that their privacy was being very seriously invaded at a time and place when they were most vulnerable.”
He felt that the effect of the activities of the “protesters” was “likely” to make them “unreasonable” and thus justified the imposed restrictions.
Dulgheriu told media via a press release that she was “saddened” and “shocked” that a measure preventing women from getting help in continuing their pregnancies had been upheld by the courts.
“I am saddened and shocked that the Court has upheld a PSPO that prevents good people giving help to mothers who desperately want it,” she stated. “I am surprised that evidence that the judge recognised isn’t of a criminal standard, can be used to criminalise a whole section of society that holds an ‘unfashionable’ worldview.”
Dulgheriu pointed out that the Court’s decision created a precedent for criminalizing even silent prayer and was a dismissal of the fundamental right to freedom of speech.
She added that she was “devastated” for women who would not be able to get the same “loving help” she did, and “desperately sorry” for the pro-life volunteers who, since the anti-support battle revved up, “have been consistently subject to abuse on the street and slander online.”
In the same press release, Dulgheriu’s solicitor, Andre Clovis, stated that the outcome has dangerous implications for the freedom of speech in England.
“This decision allows Ealing Council to seek criminal sanctions against individuals for purported ‘misbehaviour,’ such as silent prayer,” he warned.
“This outcome sets as dangerous precedent and is a direct attack upon our very basic rights, such as freedom of expression. My view is that this decision cannot and should not be looked at in isolation for fear we continue the worrying trend of becoming a society where those with opposing views simply seek to shut each other down rather than engage in dialogue and debate.”
Clare Carberry of BeHereForMe.org, a group dedicated to making sure women who want and need help not to abort, praised Dulgheriu for her attempt to quash the PSPO and for forcing the public to take notice of women who are coerced into abortions.
“Before this case came to the courts it was wholly denied that women like Alina even existed,” Carberry said. “The dominant narrative was that every woman attending an abortion centre was freely and independently choosing an abortion and that the vigils outside the clinic offered them nothing.”
Dulgheriu has “blown the lid off the myth that abortion clinics offer options to women who are in the most difficult circumstance,” Carberry continued. “She has overturned the pretence that the the pro-life vigils outside their doors do not offer help and that women do not want them there.”
Antonia Tully of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn (SPUC) told LifeSiteNews that she was “astonished” that the judge would recognize that the PSPO interfered with human rights and but find Ealing Council was entitled to impose it.
“What is most shocking is that the High Court is allowing a council to ban peaceful public acts of witness and freedom of expression and stop members of the public offering charitable help to pregnant women,” she said.
Speaking of Dulgheriu, Tully continued: “A mother who was herself given this help and has a beautiful six-year-old daughter as a result brought this challenge, and a judge has decided that no other mothers may be helped this way, and no-one else’s sons or daughters may be saved.”
“Instead, they are to be left at the mercy of Marie Stopes. It’s the height of irony that it’s not the multi-million pound organisation that we know from CQC reports has injured women and put their health and safety at risk that is facing court action, but volunteers who give up their time to offer financial help and moral support to women who want to keep their babies. What kind of society treats its citizens in this way?”
Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow told LifeSiteNews that this was the first time in English history since the interdict against Catholicism was lifted that prayer has been criminalized.
“Prayer has been made illegal, and not just public prayer but anything which could be interpreted as a silent articulation of prayer or devotion,” she said.
“This is a major blow not only for religious freedom but also for free speech which is protected under the EU convention on human rights.”