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Mothers condemn plan to set up ‘censorship zone’ around abortion clinic

Pro-lifers at a vigil outside an abortion clinic in Ealing, west London (Getty)

A group of mothers who were helped by pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics have criticised a report being submitted to Ealing Council.

The report proposes the creation of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) setting up a “safe zone” outside the Marie Stopes clinic on Mattock Lane, Ealing to curtail pray vigils. It states that the Council “is satisfied on reasonable grounds” that certain activities in the area “have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”, and is now restricting these activities within the safe zone.

These include: “Protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval/disapproval or attempted act of approval/disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means. This includes but is not limited to graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counselling.” It also includes interfering with (verbally or physically), intimidating, harassing or photographing members of staff or visitors to the clinic, and displaying any images or text referring to abortion.

The PSPO sets up a “designated area” where up to four protestors may be present, but with restrictions: they are not allowed to shout any messages about abortion or display posters any larger than A3 in size.

However, the Be Here For Me campaign says the report ignores the testimony of women who have been helped by vigils, including Alina, who said: “What kind of society refuses help for a vulnerable woman? My little girl is here today because of the real practical and emotional support that I was given by a group outside the outside the Marie Stopes clinic.”

Another mother, Jaceline, said: “My daughter means the world to me. It is really upsetting to know that people are actively trying to ban the offering of support like I received outside the abortion clinic.”

The campaign is holding a rally outside Ealing Town Hall at 6.30pm on Tuesday April 10 ahead of the Ealing Council Cabinet meeting where the council will decide whether to introduce the zone.