UK official proposes ban on protests outside abortion clinics

(Reuters/Hannah Mckay)Amber Rudd, Britain's Home Secretary, leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, October 17, 2017.

A U.K. government official has proposed banning protesters from gathering outside abortion clinics in order to protect women from harassment.

According to The Guardian, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has ordered an assessment of demonstrations outside abortion clinics following concerns about the tactics used by pro-life activists.

Rudd said that women needed protection from "aggressive protesters" and the government will review the existing legislation and considering giving new powers to the police to stop pro-life advocates from gathering outside the clinics.

"While everyone has a right to peaceful protest, it is completely unacceptable that anyone should feel harassed or intimidated simply for exercising their legal right to healthcare advice and treatment," she stated, according to Catholic Herald.

"The decision to have an abortion is already an incredibly personal one, without women being further pressured by aggressive protesters," she continued.

The Home Office review will gather evidence from the police, healthcare providers and local authorities before considering what actions can be taken to protect the patients, as well as abortion clinic workers.

It will also assess how similar measures have worked in other countries, such as Australia, France and the U.S.

Labour Member of Parliament Rupa Huq is proposing a related legislation that would create "buffer zones" around abortion clinics to prevent pro-life advocates from holding prayer vigils and offering leaflets to women.

In a petition letter for the "buffer zones," Huq had claimed that pro-life protesters harass women by calling them "murderers." She had also accused the activists outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing of "weaponizing rosary beads."

Clare McCullough, director of the Good Counsel Network, which organizes prayer at the Ealing Marie Stopes, denied Huq's allegations and wrote to the Home Secretary to "state categorically that no one attending our vigils calls women seeking abortion 'murderers.'"

The pro-life leader pointed out that England has laws against harassment, adding that her colleagues would have already faced prosecution if they had harassed women in any way.

"Harassment is a crime. If we were harassing anyone, we would be arrested. In fact, what we're trying to do is help women to have an alternative, if they're willing to accept it," McCullough stated, as reported by Life Site News.

During a parliamentary debate earlier this month, Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh read a testimony of a woman who changed her mind after her encounter with pro-life protesters outside an abortion clinic.

The woman said that her three-year-old daughter, "an amazing, perfect little girl," would have been aborted if there had been a ban on vigils outside abortion clinics before she gave birth to her child.

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