UK – Letter to the Home Secretary re buffer zones for abortion clinics nationally

In 2018, the UK Home Office conducted a review of the evidence for buffer zones around all abortion clinics, to prevent women and staff being harassed by anti-abortion groups and individuals. The Home Office response was that national buffer zones would not be a “proportionate’ solution” as the level of harassment was not serious enough to warrant it.

Following a Freedom of Information request, national abortion provider Bpas discovered that the evidence given to the Home Secretary, on which the decision was based, was incomplete. Evidence from medical bodies and professionals was completely ignored, for example, and no evidence from the more than 1,300 individual accounts by people who were harassed, submitted by Bpas and Marie Stopes, were included in the evidence considered. Claims from anti-choice protesters were included without apparent questioning. For example, the claim that for their own safety, anti-abortion protesters had to film the people they were harassing, and that the leaflets they were handing out contained information that abortion providers do not share, such as the totally false claim that abortion causes breast cancer.

Moreover, a note by one civil servant described the position of the Home Office like this: “There is need to be seen to do something but don’t want to actually do something.”

The UK organisations shown in the group of logos above sent a letter to the Home Secretary asking her to reconsider the decision, based on all the information originally submitted. Their letter is here.

SOURCE: E-mail from Bpas, 22 October 2019