London

Abortion protests banned outside Richmond clinic

British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in Rosslyn Road Image copyright Google
Image caption Richmond Council said protests near an abortion clinic in Rosslyn Road had a "detrimental" effect on patients and staff

Abortion protests will be banned outside a south-west London clinic, a local council has decided.

Richmond councillors approved the order for sections of six streets near the British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in Rosslyn Road.

The ban prohibits protesters from trying to engage people attending the clinic in "any form of counselling or interaction" in relation to abortion.

A councillor said the order would protect patients' human rights.

Councillor Liz Jaeger said: "Following a thorough consultation, there was overwhelming feedback that the vigils were having a detrimental effect on [patients] or others in the local area."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Protesters were stopped from holding daily vigils outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing in 2018

The Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), made under anti-social behaviour legislation, will last for a preliminary period of three years.

Ms Jaeger said the PSPO "strikes the right balance, protecting the human rights of the patients and staff of the BPAS Clinic to use the services and go to work without fear and in privacy".

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said there had been "no evidence of harassment" outside the clinic.

In an online article, the society said the ruling was the "latest example of official intolerance towards pro-lifers".

Last year an order came into force to stop anti-abortion and pro-choice campaigners from standing within 100m of a clinic in Ealing, west London.

After the ban was imposed at the Ealing centre, the home secretary rejected calls for buffer zones to be introduced across the country.

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