Council issues a ban on protests at abortion clinic

An anti-abortion protest sign outside Marie Stopes clinic (now closed) in Belfast in 2012
An anti-abortion protest sign outside Marie Stopes clinic (now closed) in Belfast in 2012

A London council has banned anti-abortion protesters from demonstrating outside a clinic which provides terminations.

Ealing Council’s cabinet voted unanimously in favour of allowing a Public Spaces Protection Order to create a protest-free safe zone outside a Marie Stopes clinic in the west London borough.

Richard Bentley, managing director at Marie Stopes UK, described it as a “landmark decision” and said women had a right to access services without facing “harassment”.

“We know other councils have been watching this process and some are exploring similar measures to increase protection outside clinics in their areas,” he said.

Before the meeting, John Hansen Brevetti, the clinical operations manager at the clinic on Mattock Lane, said women had been told the ghost of their foetus would haunt them, had been told “mummy mummy don’t kill me”, had holy water thrown on them and rosary beads thrust at them.

Anti-abortion campaigners, including several children, sung hymns and held signs reading “Don’t criminalise help” and “No censorship zones” outside before the meeting began.

Last April on Belfast City Council, the SDLP disciplined three of its councillors after they defied a party order to support a motion condemning alleged harassment by anti-abortion protestors at the city’s Marie Stopes clinic.

They have all since quit the party, leaving it with just four members on the council.