Government review of abortion clinic protests

On 26 November, the Government published the following Press Notice announcing a review into harassment and intimidation near abortion clinics. 


Review into harassment and intimidation near abortion clinics

From: Home Office and The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP

Published: 26 November 2017

The Home Secretary has today ordered an in-depth assessment of protests outside abortion clinics following concerns about the tactics of some protesters.

Some women have been subjected to harassment and intimidating behaviour from protesters when visiting family planning clinics to seek information, advice and services from medical professionals.

The review will gather evidence from police forces, healthcare providers and local authorities to understand the scale and nature of these protests, before considering what further action the government can take to protect those using or working in abortion clinics. This could include bolstering existing or creating new police and civil powers.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

While everyone has a right to peaceful protest, it is completely unacceptable that anyone should feel harassed or intimidated simply for exercising their legal right to healthcare advice and treatment. The decision to have an abortion is already an incredibly personal one, without women being further pressured by aggressive protesters.

Let me be clear, this review is about ensuring the police, healthcare providers and local authorities have the right powers to protect women making these tough decisions. But this isn’t to kick the issue into the long grass. The review will collect the detailed evidence and firm recommendations that allow us to take the right action to tackle this problem.

The law already provides protection against harassment and intimidation, and the police have a range of powers to manage protests. Like all members of the public, protesters are subject to the law and all suspected criminal offences will be robustly investigated and dealt with by the police.

But the review will see what more needs to be done and the Policing Minister Nick Hurd has written to the National Policing Lead for Protest, Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann to begin this work.

The review, to be conducted by Home Office officials, will also consider international comparisons, as similar protests have taken place in Australia, France and the United States.


Comments

Following the announcement, Ekklesia commented:

“The announcement follows two councils – Ealing and Portsmouth – voting in favour of consulting on public spaces protection orders outside local abortion clinics, which are a form of buffer zone but are highly cumbersome to introduce. In addition, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq has been pushing a private members’ bill on buffer zones in the House of Commons. She has welcomed the Home Office announcement.”

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Government review of abortion clinic protests" in Law & Religion UK, 27 November 2017, http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2017/11/27/government-review-of-abortion-clinic-protests/

One thought on “Government review of abortion clinic protests

  1. “Review into harassment and intimidation near abortion clinics”

    Not “alleged” harassment and intimidation, I see. It’s a foregone conclusion what the conclusion will be then.

    “women have been subjected to harassment and intimidating behaviour”

    Allegedly. She forgot the word “allegedly”. What a give-away!

    “The review will gather evidence from police forces, healthcare providers and local authorities …”

    Not gathering evidence, then. from the so-called “protesters” at these so-called “protests”? How impartial is that?

    “before considering what further action the government can take to protect those using or working in abortion clinics”

    “Can take”? Why not “should take”, or “needs to take”? Why “what further action”, without adding “(if any)”? Because this is another of those enquiries that known what its findings have to be. The findings are in the terms of reference, as in the case of the substitute for an inquest into the suspicious death of Dr David Kelly, the enquiry “into the circumstances surrounding” his suicide.

    “The law already provides protection against harassment and intimidation”

    Of course. The plan is to make disapproving of the abortion industry outside its retail premises actionable per se without evidence of harassment of anybody. It really is an attempt to kick this issue into the long grass.

    “But the review will see what more needs to be done”

    Not what more needs to be done if anything, nor whether anything more needs to be done, please note.

    “aggressive protesters”

    Not one single conviction, or successful claim under the Protection From Harassment Act. Not one single video of a protester being aggressive that I’ve ever seen.

    “the right action to tackle this problem”

    A presumption that there *is* a “problem”.

    Simply sickening. A mockery of what an “enquiry” is supposed to do.

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