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Yvette Cooper backs calls for ‘buffer zones’ outside abortion clinics

Yvette Cooper has come out in favour of the 'Back Off Campaign' (PA)

The shadow home secretary has said that there should be “buffer zones” to protect women who enter abortion clinics from pro-life prayer vigils.

In an interview with ITV News, Yvette Cooper said: “I think it is possible to have a sensible area outside a clinic where protests don’t take place so that people can’t be harassed and so that staff can go to work without feeling threatened as well.”

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which carries out 55,000 abortions every year, ignited the debate after it launched the Back Off campaign which is also supported by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Rape Crisis England and Wales and the Royal College of Midwives.

The Labour Party have said that the Government should look at the example of the US, Canada and France where anti-abortion protests are prohibited from happening directly outside clinics.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that he would “have to think about” the possibility of buffer zones.

But last week a leading pro-life activist criticised the Back Off Campaign.

Robert Colquhoun of 40 Days for Life denied that prayer vigils outside abortion clinics were causing “harassment and distress”. He said: “We’ve been organising prayer vigils since 2010 – legal and peaceful vigils– simply to pray and to offer alternatives through pavement counselling. We’ve seen hundreds of women in London choose life because of pavement counselling, and this has helped people in need.”