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High Court upholds ban on praying outside abortion clinic

Alina (left) and her daughter, Sarah (bottom). Jaceline (right) with her daughter (Be Here for Me)

Campaigners have expressed their sadness after the High Court upheld Ealing Council’s ban on prayer vigils outside an abortion clinic.

The court upheld the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) from Ealing Council which criminalises praying, handing out leaflets or any act expressing an opinion on abortion outside a Marie Stopes clinic.

Alina Dulgheriu, a mother who was helped by a pro-life vigil and who brought the challenge, is considering options for appeal.

“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 said.

“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.”

She said the court had effectively dismissed fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression by giving local authorities the benefit of the doubt when they try to criminalise it.

“I am discussing every option available to me to be able to challenge this decision, which for the sake of vulnerable women and the future of our fundamental freedoms, should not be able to stand,” she added.

Elizabeth Howard, spokeswoman for the Be Here for Me campaign, said: “This decision is a major blow for free speech and human rights in this country. But the struggle for human rights has never been easy. And while there are women who feel they have no choice but an abortion they don’t want, we will do their best to reach them.”

“Even under the draconian restrictions imposed by the council, several women have accepted help from the pro-life vigil. Sadly, as a result of the PSPO, there are hundreds more desperately vulnerable women who haven’t had the opportunity to access the help that many of them may have wanted.”

“This decision is certainly not the end of pro-life witness in this country,” she added.