In response to growing anti-abortion protest activity outside a London clinic, councillors in Ealing have tonight voted, without opposition, to commit the Council to "fully explore every possible option and take all necessary actions within its powers, utilising all necessary resources, to prevent anti-abortion protestors from intimidating and harassing women." Ealing Council has tonight indicated that this could include using anti-social behaviour tools including Public Spaces Protection Orders.
A bpas spokesperson said:
"We welcome Ealing Council’s commitment to taking all actions within its powers to prevent the harassment of women attending their local clinic. As the Council has noted, this is not about shutting down debates about abortion or limiting free speech, but balancing the right to protest with the right of women to obtain advice and treatment in confidence and free from intimidation
"While today’s vote is undoubtedly a significant step forward for women and residents in Ealing, anti-abortion protests are a national problem in need of a national solution. The situation in Ealing is sadly not unique, and women and clinic staff across the country report being followed, filmed, and harassed when trying to access or provide legal healthcare services. This has to stop.
"A number of other countries have introduced buffer zones around clinics in which anti-abortion activity cannot take place. Women in the UK deserve exactly the same level of protection. We urge the government to follow the example set by Ealing Council, take responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of women seeking abortion care, and put forward legislation to introduce buffer zones as a matter of urgency."
The full motion, motion 11.2, is available on the Ealing Council website here.