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Ealing abortion clinic protest ban: Appeal lodged

Alina Dulgheriu outside the High Court Image copyright PA
Image caption Alina Dulgheriu, a representative for the campaign group Be Here For Me, filed the appeal at the High Court

Campaigners have lodged a High Court appeal against a council's ban on protests outside an abortion clinic.

The Public Spaces Protection Order came into force on Monday after reports of "intimidation and harassment" for women using the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, west London.

The Be Here For Me group said the ban "criminalises prayer and support outside an abortion clinic".

A designated area for vigils has been set up outside the buffer zone.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Good Counsel Network held daily vigils outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing

Ealing Council was the first in the country to create a protest-free safe zone outside an abortion clinic.

The order means neither anti-abortion nor pro-choice campaigners are able to stand within 100m (330 ft) of the clinic on Mattock Lane.

The council said anybody who breaches the order "would be committing a criminal offence and can be fined or prosecuted".

Image caption The Be Here For Me group says the ban "criminalises prayer and support outside an abortion clinic"

Alina Dulgheriu, a representative for the campaign group Be Here For Me, filed the appeal at the High Court on Friday.

The group described the ban as violating the human rights of residents and visitors, including the right to freedom of speech and prayer.

Ms Dulgheriu, 34, said she was offered financial, practical and moral help, as well as accommodation, and now has a "beautiful" six-year-old daughter.

John Hansen-Brevetti, clinical operations manager at the clinic, said women had been told the ghost of their foetus would haunt them, had been told "mummy, mummy, don't kill me", had holy water thrown on them and rosary beads thrust at them.

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