Don't ban help outside abortion centres for those in need

Petition to: Sajid Javid (Home Secratary); Julian Bell (Ealing Council Leader) and Lib Peck (Lambeth Council Leader)

 

Don't ban help outside abortion centres for those in need

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6,465 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.

Don't ban help outside abortion centres for those in need

Abortion Provider BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) has been campaigning to establish ‘buffer zones’ (or more appropriately, censorship zones) outside of abortion clinics by saying that those involved in pro-life vigils are frequently involved in the harassment and intimidation of women.

The BPAS ‘Back Off’ campaign has been run on the basis of many unfounded allegations which have completely mischaracterised the activities of vigil members. Much of the ‘evidence’ that is provided to show ‘harassment’ and ‘intimidation’ has been brought forwards by the abortion providers themselves. Such ‘evidence’ is usually vague and unsubstantiated, and often confuses the activities of pro-life groups with that of ‘pro-choice’ groups (such as ‘Sister Supporter’) who have been set up specifically to aggressively protest against the presence of pro-life groups outside of abortion clinics.

Disturbingly, this forceful campaigning has resulted in Ealing Council and Lambeth Council pressing ahead with plans to implement PSPOs (Public Space Protection Orders) which would establish censorship zones around abortion clinics. Other councils are watching these developments closely, and may take similar action if Lambeth or Ealing are successful in implementing them.

The Home Office has also been pressured into holding a consultation on ‘protests’ outside of abortion clinics. This consultation suggested that the Government might take action to impose censorship zones around abortion clinics across the country.

If these censorship zones are implemented, it will prevent pro-life groups from offering help and support to vulnerable pregnant women, some of whom desperately want to keep their babies but feel as though they have no choice but to have an abortion.

Hundreds of women are helped by pro-life outreach outside the gates of abortion centres with assistance that includes counselling, help with food, baby clothes, rent, housing and legal advice among many other things.

There is no doubt that action should be taken against people who do genuinely harass or intimidate women entering abortion clinics, and there are a very wide range of powers available to the police to do this. However, the abortion providers and ‘pro-choice’ pressure groups are against the very presence of pro-life groups near abortion clinics, regardless of the vital support that they are providing to women in need, and have resorted to mischaracterisation and exaggeration to exclude them from public space.

Implementing censorship zones is likely to violate several fundamental human rights (particularly the right to freedom of expression) because of the authoritarian and disproportionate nature of such measures. It would also set a dangerous precedent that small but vocal pressure groups can effectively censor another minority group they dislike or disagree with. This is ‘mob-rule’ in action, and is very bad for civil society.

Sign the petition now to raise your concerns with the Home Office, Lambeth Council and Ealing Council, and lend your voice to the efforts to stop them from implementing these draconian censorship zones around abortion clinics.

http://www.behereforme.org/

http://behereforme.org/prolifer-outside-clinic-gave-me-strength/

http://behereforme.org/deidre-alden-speech-birmingham/

http://behereforme.org/david-kurten-defends-abortion-centre-vigils-londo...

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/pro-choice-iand-i-pro-free-...

http://behereforme.org/manifesto-club-abortion-clinic-pspos/

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Petition to: Sajid Javid (Home Secratary); Julian Bell (Ealing Council Leader) and Lib Peck (Lambeth Council Leader)

I wish to make it known that I am very concerned by your alarming response to the ‘Back Off’ campaign being run by British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and your apparent willingness to implement censorship zones outside of abortion clinics, which would prevent members of the public from participating in vigils.

Not only have you ignored the reality that abortion providers such as BPAS are financially incentivised to remove anyone who might be offering alternatives to women seeking abortion from outside their clinics, but you have accepted their allegations of ‘harassment’ and ‘intimidation’ at face-value without any appropriate scrutiny.

Your frequent referral to vigils outside of abortion clinics as ‘protests’ shows that you do not understand the purpose of their presence there, and that you are ignoring the hard evidence of hundreds of women who have been helped by pro-life groups every year outside the gates of abortion centres with practical help and support that isn’t offered by abortion providers.

There have not been widespread calls for new powers from police or legal experts because the police already have comprehensive powers to maintain public order and protect the public from genuine harassment and intimidation. Such powers are already so wide-ranging and discretionary that civil rights campaigners have consistently criticised them.

Given the existence of these wide-ranging powers already available to the police and councils, it would be completely unreasonable and disproportionate to institute censorship zones around abortion clinics; particularly in light of the lack of arrests, injunctions, and prosecutions of vigil attendees.

Moreover, as civil rights groups have noted, implementing censorship zones in this context is in direct contravention of the principle of ‘minimal criminalisation’. This principle holds that the state should not look to criminalise its citizens unnecessarily. Criminal charges should follow proven criminal behaviour, whereas censorship zones would criminalise citizens for otherwise legal actions.

I am also deeply concerned that implementing censorship zones to indiscriminately stop pro-life groups from appearing outside of abortion clinics would violate fundamental human rights, and would set a dangerous precedent going forward. The Human Rights Act 1998 guarantees the ability of all people to practise freedom of public assembly, freedom of speech freedom of religion, and freedom to share information. These foundational freedoms - essential to the functioning of a healthy democratic society - are likely to be violated by the imposition of censorship zones.

In summary, I believe that the imposition of censorship zones outside of abortion centres would be unlawful, bad for society, in violation of fundamental human rights, damaging to charitable outreach and ultimately based on biased and misleading evidence.

I urge you to cease any action which would censor pro-life groups involved in vigils, and rather look to see how you can support their efforts to provide women with real alternatives to abortion.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Don't ban help outside abortion centres for those in need

Sign this petition now!

010,000
  6,465
 
6,465 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.