A Labour MP is planning to table an amendment to new domestic violence legislation to ban protests outside abortion clinics.
Rupa Huq, the MP for Ealing Central and Acton, told a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference that pro-life protesters were “weaponising rosary beads” outside a clinic in her constituency.
HuffPost UK quotes her as saying: “We have a Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing and for as long as I can remember, there has been a constant phoney vigil outside the clinic, with people stopping women going into the clinic to access services.
“So we have had a counter protest, called Sister Support recently, and now there is a kind of stand-off on the pavement.
“I want to table an amendment to the domestic violence bill – one of the few things that survived and made it into the Queen’s Speech – to create a safe zone, around these clinics, because the pavement should be a safe space.
“Nobody should feel uncomfortable accessing services or going about their daily routines.”
In 2014, Yvette Cooper, the then shadow home secretary, called for “buffer zones” around abortion clinics, backing a campaign by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Britain’s biggest abortion provider.
Last year, the Care Quality Commission suspended abortions under general anaesthetic and to girls under the age of 18 at Marie Stopes clinics after inspections raised serious concerns over safeguarding and consent.
An undercover reported later found the group was offering abortions to women based on a 20-second conversation with call centre workers.
One woman who had an abortion said: “It was like a conveyor belt. Some [women] were really upset, they were crying but there was no support for them.” She added: “It was one in, and literally five minutes later, another one in. They were doing it so quickly.”