In a recent move, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has rejected calls to introduce buffer zones outside of abortion clinics, of which would’ve prevented pro-life protestors from gathering outside of them.
The reason is that for Javid, the protests were usually ‘passive’ in nature, infrequent overall and while acknowledging some wrongdoing on the behalf of some of these protests (including handing out model foetuses at these protests), admitted that legislation already covers for any bad behaviour at such protests, most notably the Public Order Act 1986, of which Javid cited in his argument.
For now, the issue for him is ‘under review’. The review began under his predecessor Amber Rudd, following controversies surrounding alleged disturbances at such protests.
Reactions to said changes have been very mixed.
On the one hand, Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at British Pregnancy Advisory Service, was impressed that the government recognised that such protests could ‘have a profoundly negative impact on women seeking healthcare’ and suggested that further co-operation with the government was the only way to resolve the issue.
On the other hand, Richard Bentley, managing director at the Marie Stopes UK charity, felt that such a conclusion didn’t go far enough to resolve the issue, all the while Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott stated that ‘this is a disgusting failure to uphold women’s rights over their own bodies’, and that ‘Javid must urgently reconsider’ and that he had given ‘the green light for women to be harassed and abused for exercising their right to choose’.
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