New Clause 11 - Offence of interference with access to or provision of abortion services

Public Order Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 18th October 2022.

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“(1) A person who is within a buffer zone and who interferes with any person’s decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services in that buffer zone is guilty of an offence.

(2) A “buffer zone” means an area which is within a boundary which is 150 metres from any part of an abortion clinic or any access point to any building or site that contains an abortion clinic and is—

(a) on or adjacent to a public highway or public right of way,

(b) in an open space to which the public has access,

(c) within the curtilage of an abortion clinic, or

(d) in any location that is visible from a public highway, public right of way, open space to which the public have access, or the curtilage of an abortion clinic.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), “interferes with” means—

(a) seeks to influence,

(b) persistently, continuously or repeatedly occupies,

(c) impedes or threatens,

(d) intimidates or harasses,

(e) advises or persuades, attempts to advise or persuade, or otherwise expresses opinion,

(f) informs or attempts to inform about abortion services by any means, including, without limitation, graphic, physical, verbal or written means, or

(g) sketches, photographs, records, stores, broadcasts, or transmits images, audio, likenesses or personal data of any person without express consent.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) in the first instance—

(i) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months,

(ii) to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or

(iii) to both; and

(b) on further instances—

(i) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or to a fine, or to both, or

(ii) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to a fine, or to both.

(5) Nothing in this section applies to—

(a) anything done in the course of providing, or facilitating the provision of, abortion services in an abortion clinic,

(b) anything done in the course of providing medical care within a GP practice, hospital or other healthcare facility,

(c) the operation of a camera if its coverage of persons accessing or attempting to access an abortion clinic is incidental and the camera or footage is not used for any of the purposes listed in subsection (3), and

(d) a police officer acting properly in the course of their duties.”—(Stella Creasy.)

This new clause would introduce areas around abortion clinics and hospitals (buffer zones) where interference with, and intimidation or harassment of, women accessing or people providing abortion services would be an offence.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division number 62 Lawfare and Investigative Journalism

Aye: 295 MPs

No: 110 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The House divided: Ayes 297, Noes 110.

Question accordingly agreed to.

New clause 11 read a Second time, and added to the Bill.