100 signatures reached
To: Secretary of State for Health of the UK Matt Hancock
Enough is enough on clinic protests
Intervene to ensure everyone can access legal healthcare free from harassment and intimidation.
Why is this important?
There has been an increase in anti-choice protests across the UK, targeting women seeking routine reproductive healthcare.
A BPAS clinic in Stroud Green, North London was the most recent target in this series of intimidating and increasingly organised protests. We also note that there are protests planned throughout Lent outside a clinic in Stapleford in Nottingham, and there have been similar protests outside a clinic in Liverpool. According to the Back Off campaign, there have been 44 such incidents across the UK since September 2018.
Abortion Rights Chair Kerry Abel said: "This is not acceptable. If they want to protest long held law on abortion, they should take it to the government – not attempt en masse to intimidate women trying to access healthcare information. Healthcare is a fundamental human right."
Women attending abortion clinics and pregnancy advice centres report feeling fearful and intimidating after being exposed to targeted harassment by these anti-choice activists. They stand outside these clinics in groups, often handing out leaflets containing misleading or inaccurate information about abortion, and they follow women as they enter or leave the clinics. Sometimes they carry cameras and film these women, who are simply trying to access routine and legal healthcare in confidence.
These protestors also intimidate staff at clinics, who occasionally need escorting from the building by the police as they fear for their own safety.
Dr Pam Lowe, who researches anti-abortion activism, has analysed comments made by women who have experienced this form of harassment:
"They feel it's an invasion of healthcare privacy, so it draws attention to the space and it's a shaming position. It's drawing public attention to what's happening.
"This is a very private decision, it's a healthcare decision, and we wouldn't normally expect our private decisions to be made public in the way that it is."
Please sign this petition for Health Secretary Matt Hancock to take action. He has a duty to ensure everyone can access legal healthcare free from harassment and intimidation – which this clearly is.
Abortion Rights offers its solidarity to the clinic staff and women attending the affected clinics.