Richmond introduces buffer zones around BPAS clinic

06 Mar 2019

On 6th February, Richmond Council's Regulatory Committee voted for a buffer zone to be introduced around Richmond's BPAS abortion centre on Rosalyn Road thus preventing groups such as the Good Counsel Network from holding peaceful vigils and offering help to women approaching the clinic.

Responding to the decision, a representative of The Good Counsel Network wrote, “ I understand that women going through a traumatic moment, like abortion certainly is, would rather not have to see the mildest of placards…….or even have a person praying outside or offering a leaflet. Even though, as you can see from the two comments I have included behaviours such as offering a leaflet or just being present - which are neither frowned on by law, nor intended to cause any distress at all - can be difficult on such a difficult day. Yes, even though we try to be unoffensive and unobtrusive, we understand many women would rather we were not there. So why are we there? Because despite the words of several Richmond Councillors tonight, we still see dozens and dozens of women entering Richmond who have - and are offered - no alternatives to abortion. I have spoken many times about those groups of women who cannot access services like refuges, housing, benefits,  safe houses, even social services. And no amount of pretending that BPAS refer these women to such places means that they can get help from them”. (As quoted by ICN Independent Catholic News)

Elizabeth Howard, spokeswoman for ‘Be Here for Me’ campaign, strongly criticised the decision saying: 'The astonishingly broad nature of this PSPO shows that they are merely virtue signalling as opposed to protecting women, as they have deliberately chosen to outlaw charitable activity that has a profoundly positive impact for many vulnerable women. Harassment and intimidation is never acceptable outside abortion centres, and thankfully the council and police have wide powers to deal with any problematic behaviour. However, expelling pro-life vigil members at the behest of noisy activist groups in the absence of clear justification is extremely damaging for our society.'

(As quoted by Christianity Today)

Life Charity Spokeswoman Clare Plasom-Scott said “This is being done under the guise of protecting women when what it really does is protect the profits of the abortion clinic. BPAS Richmond saw a 24% reduction in the number of abortions it performed between 2013 and 2017 and it must be concerned about its income. Every human life saved by a woman in crisis who decides to take up an offer of support, represents a denial of income for the abortion industry which rakes in more than £100M every year. In contrast to many unsubstantiated allegations about demonstrators outside abortion clinics, we have the real and powerful testimonies of women like Alina Dulgheriu, who now have a baby after receiving support offered outside an abortion clinic. Buffer zones are not needed in this country. The law already provides a legal mechanism to arrest and prosecute anyone who intimidates or harasses women and we fully support this. However something has to be wrong when small groups of people praying and offering support to women if they want it, are deemed to be harassing and intimidating women. Those who truly believe in the interests of women should let their pro-choice rhetoric extend towards support for the provision of practical support to women who choose to keep their baby. Anyone who speaks against or impedes such support, especially for women who are vulnerable and in crisis, do not genuinely have the interest of women at heart.” (As quoted by Life Charity)