Abortion: Clinics

Home Office written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has plans to introduce national buffer zones outside abortion clinics.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of protestors outside abortion clinics on women attending those clinics.

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

The Government is clear that it is unacceptable that patients seeking healthcare advice or staff working in healthcare facilities should feel intimidated or harassed. This country has a proud history of allowing free speech, but the right to peaceful protest does not extend to harassment or intimidating behaviour and the law currently provides protection against such acts.

The Home Office takes the matter of protesters outside abortion clinics extremely seriously. That is why we carried out an in-depth assessment to understand the scale and nature of protests outside abortion clinics to establish whether more should be done to protect those requiring an abortion. The previous Home Secretary set out his position on 13 September 2018 through a Written Ministerial Statement. A link to the statement can be found here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-09-13/HCWS958.

The Government recognises the adverse impact that anti-abortion protests can have on patients and staff, and the Home Office is keeping this important matter under review.

Officials regularly liaise with national policing leads to assess if there have been any developments on protest activities outside abortion clinics. The Home Office would welcome any new evidence that becomes available on this important issue.

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