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May 9, 2018 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) – BPAS has written an open letter to the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, urging him to act on a review of protests outside abortion clinics launched by Amber Rudd, and ban pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics.

Reporting false claims

The letter is signed by 35 “women's advocacy and medical organisations”, including the British Medical Association, Mumsnet, and Women's Aid. The text of the letter makes a number of misleading and unproven claims about peaceful pro-life vigils. It says: “Protest activity outside abortion facilities can include women being told that they are 'murderers', the display of oversized posters with distressing and graphic images of aborted foetuses, being filmed entering and leaving clinics, and being given false information including that abortion could give them breast cancer.” 

These claims were also used in the campaign to bring in a Public Space Protection Order around the Marie Stopes Centre in Ealing, and were rebutted in a series of media appearances by Clare McCullough of the Good Counsel Network, as well as SPUC staff. 

Seeking to get around court challenge

A mother who was helped to keep her child by a pro-life vigil is currently challenging the Ealing decision in the High Court. BPAS and the other signatories give this as a reason for national legislation: “the decision is being challenged in the High Court at what will be a high cost to a local council only seeking to do what they can to protect their local residents.”

SPUC writes to the Home Secretary

SPUC has also written to Mr Javid, asking what recommendations his department plans to make in light of the review, and the heavy-handed actions of Ealing Council. 

“We are deeply concerned about the future of pro-life vigils outside abortion facilities,” wrote Micheal Robinson, Director of Communication and Campaigns at SPUC Scotland. “These vigils offer last-minute help to vulnerable women as they approach the abortion clinic. Every year hundreds of women take advantage of this help offered by pro-life volunteers.

What happens next?

“We are still waiting for your department to report on the consultation: “Abortion Clinic Protests”. It is even more important for us to know what, if any, recommendations your department will make to the Government in the light of the decision by Ealing Council to implement a PSPO to outlaw help for women and public prayer. We would welcome a response from you on this urgent matter.”

Mr Javid has a mixed voting record on life issues, but he voted in favour of banning abortion providers from providing pre-abortion counselling, and for Fiona Bruce's Amendment to the Serious Crime Bill in 2015, which sought to introduce an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion. 

Meanwhile, an Irish newspaper has been quoting misleading information from BPAS on how abortions are carried out. The article refers to the abortion pill “causing an early miscarriage”, and vacuum aspiration abortions as “gentle suction”. How different types of abortion are carried out is explained in detail in Abortion Matters, by Dr Anthony McCarthy.

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


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