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Anti-abortion campaigners appeal to overturn protest ban

ANTI-ABORTION campaigners told Court of Appeal judges yesterday that a 100-metre “buffer zone” outside an abortion clinic infringes on their right to protest.

Ealing Council in west London became the first in the country to create a protest-free zone outside a Marie Stopes clinic in April 2018. It imposed a public spaces protection order following reports of “intimidation, harassment and distress” for women using the facility.

Campaign group Be Here For Me held a rally outside court during the hearing. It was attended by three women who were approached by activists on their way to abortion clinics and are now campaigning to allow this type of intervention to continue.

Lawyers for Ealing Council argue that the buffer zone should remain and said some users of the clinic who had abortions many years ago are still “significantly affected by their encounters with the activists.”

The council had received a petition signed by more than 3,500 people urging it to take action.

Human rights organisation Liberty says it “stands firmly behind rights of access to abortion services” and does not endorse or agree with the anti-abortion stances.

The appeal is due to conclude today and the judges are expected to reserve their ruling.

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