Britain's largest abortion provider thinks it might be time for buffer zones - here's why

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Thursday 16 October 2014 14:40
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Warning: Some people may find the below images distressing

Britain's biggest abortion provider has said it is time for politicians to "seriously consider" legislating for American-style buffer zones around medical centres offering terminations in the wake of a concerted campaign to shut down one of its clinics.

A spokesperson for Bpas, who asked for their name to be protected to avoid harassment, told i100: "I think we're going to have seriously consider buffer zones. Bpas support the right to protest. But this is a campaign of intimidation, this is not a political protest, this is about stopping other British people exercising their own rights [to abortion]."

The comments come after an alleged campaign of intimidation by Abort 67, an extreme group known for displaying graphic posters and handing out leaflets containing dismembered foetuses outside abortion clinics.

  • The scene outside the Blackfriars GP practice

It has been holding a series of targeted protests outside Blackfriars medical practice, a GP surgery where a Bpas clinic offering terminations opened at the beginning of this month and activists told the GP's staff they would protest every day until the clinic was shut down, according to emails seen by i100.

Bpas said Abort 67 had "flooded the street with protesters" and it had serious concerns that it would have to close down their services.

"Abort 67 wants to prevent women in London having access to abortion full stop. What they are doing is trying to intimidate women from being able to access services at all."

  • The group in Brighton in 2012

Buffer zones have been used around abortion clinics in America and France to allow women to access abortion services without having to encounter intimidation from demonstrators opposed to their right to choose.

In the UK, the anti-abortion movement has not traditionally been as aggressive. But Bpas pointed to an incident last week at one of its clinic in Chester where two pregnant staff members felt they needed police escorts in order to leave work after protests, adding "the anti-abortion movement is getting more bold".

A Change.org petition calling on Abort 67 protesters to leave the clinic has gained more than 500 signatures this week.

A spokesperson for Abort67 said: "We show photographic evidence of the victims of abortion to allow people to come to their own conclusions. It isn't wrong to empower women with facts... We have documented examples of women telling us that had they seen the reality of abortion, their child may be alive today."

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