Masthead Local Govt - Litigation

London borough considers legal action over protests outside abortion clinic

The London Borough of Ealing will decide next week whether to try to quell protests outside an abortion clinic.

More than 3,500 people have signed a petition asking the council to take action to stop protests by anti-abortion group the Good Counsel network outside a Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing.

A motion for debate at next week’s full council meeting does not specify which powers, including a public space protection order, should be used, but says: “This council commits to fully explore every possible option and will take all necessary actions within its powers, utilising all necessary resources, to prevent anti-abortion protestors from intimidating and harassing women outside the Marie Stopes Clinic on Mattock Lane.

“The council will do this to provide the necessary reassurance and security that all women need and deserve as they make their own personal decision about their pregnancy and to defend the quality of life of those residents living nearby who pass the clinic on a regular basis.”

Cllr Binda Rai, who proposed the motion, said 3,593 residents had signed a letter complaining about the protests having a detrimental effect on their quality of life as a result of disruption and distress.

Many protesters “use deliberately disturbing and graphic images and models, including those purporting to be of dismembered foetuses”, the motion said.

The Good Counsel Network’s website states that it holds protests at the Ealing clinic from 8am-4pm every weekday except Thursdays, when abortions are not performed, and an additional Saturday vigil is held by an organisation named The Helpers of God's Precious Infants.

Mark Smulian

Lexis Information Hub

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