A bpas spokesperson said,
“We are delighted that Ealing Council have taken the next step towards creating a buffer zone. It is clear from the evidence they have gathered that anti-abortion protesters do not care about the significant distress they are causing, and that they will not alter or amend their activity through negotiations or compromise.
“Tonight’s decision will have implications outside of this one London borough. A number of councils are currently considering how to tackle anti-abortion activity, and this vote makes it clear that a Public Space Protection Order, creating a protest-free zone around clinics, is the best way to proceed on a local level.
“However, while Ealing Council’s action is clearly significant, anti-abortion clinic harassment is a national problem in need of a national solution. We look forward to the seeing the conclusion of the Home Office’s review of clinic protests, and hope that the government will then bring forward legislation to protect women and healthcare staff across the country.”
Local MP Rupa Huq said,
"I am pleased with Ealing Council’s decision to proceed with the consultation into the PSPO. For too long, Mattock Lane has been a battleground, affecting the community as well as vulnerable women who are seeking to access care that they are legally entitled to.
"Intimidation and harassment of women who are accessing healthcare is an issue that affects everyone. I am very proud to have worked with councillors and campaigners to bring this issue to national attention and to force the government to hold a review into the challenges faced by women accessing legal healthcare.’
"Ealing is leading where the country should follow – laying the groundwork for a national solution to the issue of street harassment. I look forward to bringing pressure upon the government to deliver for women across the country."
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.