Richmond: Don’t ban prayer and offers of help outside of abortion centres

Petition to: Gareth Roberts (Richmond Council Leader)

 

Richmond: Don’t ban prayer and offers of help outside of abortion centres

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6,262 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.

Richmond: Don’t ban prayer and offers of help outside of abortion centres

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 who have been set up specifically to aggressively protest against the presence of pro-life groups outside of abortion clinics.

Recently, Home Secretary Sajid Javid rejected proposals to introduce buffer zones outside abortion clinics on a national level after the Home Office conducted an in-depth review. He said that buffer zones would not be a proportionate response because the normal activities conducted outside of abortion centres, such as prayer and handing out of leaflets, were “passive in nature.” He also said that the long-standing tradition we have for people to be free to gather together and to demonstrate their views was something we should be proud of.

However in April, Ealing Council implemented a PSPO (Public Space Protection Order) which established a censorship zone around a local abortion centre. The PSPO made it a criminal offense to pray about abortion, or to offer help to women outside the centre. The PSPO is currently being challenged in the courts by a brave mother who received help from a pro-life vigil herself.

Richmond Council have now announced plans to bring in the same PSPO which would ban 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. They are doing this even though the Ealing PSPO is being challenged in the courts.

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 and councils to do this. To date, the police have not found the behaviour of those outside of the Richmond centre to constitute harassment or intimidation, and there has not been a single prosecution brought against anyone for peacefully offering help. 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.

Sign the petition now to raise your concerns with the Richmond Council, and lend your voice to the efforts to stop them from implementing a draconian censorship zone around the abortion centre on Rosslyn Road.

www.behereforme.org/ behereforme.org/prolifer-outside-clinic-gave-me-strength/

www.behereforme.org/david-kurten-defends-abortion-centre-vigils-london-assembly/

www.behereforme.org/press-release-mothers-welcome-home-office-abortion-buffer-zone-decision/

www.gofundme.com/alinalegalfund

www.spiked-online.com/2018/04/13/why-im-pro-choice-and-anti-buffer-zone/

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Petition to: Gareth Roberts (Richmond 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 a censorship zone outside of the BPAS abortion centre on Rosslyn Road that would ban charitable activity including prayer and offering support to pregnant women.

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.

By proposing to introduce a broadly worded Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which makes it a criminal offence to offer help and support to pregnant women, the Council is 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 the Council, it would be completely unreasonable and disproportionate to institute a censorship zone around the abortion centre on Rosslyn Road; particularly in light of the lack of arrests, injunctions, and prosecutions of vigil attendees.

The Home Secretary recently said that it would be disproportionate to outlaw “passive” activities such as prayer and the handing out of leaflets on a national level, and yet Richmond Council is proposing to do exactly that with its very broad PSPO.  

Ealing Council is also facing legal action under the Human Rights Act 1998 for bringing in a similar PSPO, as it appears to violate basic civil rights, including the ability of all people to practise freedom of public assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to share information. It is therefore very inappropriate for Richmond Council to introduce a similar PSPO while the Ealing legal challenge is ongoing.

In summary, I believe that the imposition of a censorship zone in Richmond 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 the pro-life groups involved in the Richmond vigil, and rather look to see how you can support their efforts to provide women with real alternatives to abortion.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Richmond: Don’t ban prayer and offers of help outside of abortion centres

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010,000
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6,262 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.