Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

When the Government plan to announce a decision on their review of proposals to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

It is a pleasure to answer this question from the hon. Lady. In September 2018, having considered the evidence of the review, the Home Secretary reached the conclusion that introducing national buffer zones would not be a proportionate response given the experience of the vast majority of hospitals and clinics, and considering that the majority of activities are passive in nature; but we of course watch with great interest the incidents that are happening in her constituency.

Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

Ealing’s buffer zone is pioneering, but it is a local byelaw and its renewal process will have to start next year, notwithstanding its High Court challenge next week. Women up and down the country—clinic users and staff—need the certainties of protection from harassment by national, lasting legislation, and the evidence of the Minister’s review does not bear out what all the pressure groups are saying. So when will the Government have the guts to act?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

It is not a question of having the guts or otherwise. We looked at this very carefully. We looked at the range of hospitals and clinics across the country that offer these services, and the overwhelming majority did not report the sorts of activities that the hon. Lady has described taking place outside the clinic in her constituency. However, we of course keep the matter under review, and I am always happy to discuss this with the hon. Lady, because I know she takes such an interest in it.