MPs have voted in favour of Rupa Huq MP’s Private Member’s Bill to put a stop to protests outside abortion clinics.
A Private Member’s Bill, or Ten Minute Rule Bill allows a backbench MP to make his or her case for a new Bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. If the MP is successful the Bill is taken to have had its first reading. Rupa’s bill was passed by 213 votes to 47.
“Just the first step for the bill – but great to see such support for women being able to access healthcare without fear of harassment or intimidation” Tweeted the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
The bill would create “buffer zones” around the health centres and keep demonstrations 150 metres away from facilities.
The MP for Ealing Central and Acton said women should be able to access abortion clinics in “safety and dignity.
“This is about the rights of vulnerable women to access healthcare in safety, anonymity and dignity without accompanying paraphernalia to induce guilt like grossly inaccurate quasi medical leaflets or being filmed or live streamed entering and leaving the clinic which no other procedure would attract.”
Ealing Council voted in April 2018 to ban anti-abortion protests outside clinics, when women with appointments at the Marie Stopes clinic found they were having to get through a crowd of anti-abortion protesters to gain access. The protesters, who call their demonstrations ‘vigils’ are usually religious groups. Nearly 4,000 residents signed a petition to ban the protesters from the site.
At the time, Ealing was thought to be the first council in the country to issue such a ban. Rupa’s bill seeks to make it nationwide.
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See also: LB Ealing launches Ealing Together