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Abortion Clinics: Buffer Zones

Volume 683: debated on Monday 9 November 2020

What assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of introducing buffer zones around abortion clinics. (908389)

The right to protest is a vital part of our democratic society, and no one should be harassed or intimidated at all. In 2018, the Government conducted a review of protests outside abortion clinics. This policy has been kept under review, and following recent engagement with the police and abortion service providers this year, we are considering whether more work should be done to protect those accessing or providing abortion services.

I thank the Home Secretary for her answer. A clinic on a quiet street in my constituency has been plagued by 40-day protesters for over 12 months. Staff, local residents, teenage girls on their way to school and patients are all having opinions, leaflets and scripture forced on them. This is a place that offers family planning, counselling for those who have suffered miscarriages and a host of other services as well as terminations. I call what is happening wholly unacceptable harassment. What does the Home Secretary think?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important matter. This is a sensitive and complex issue—no question about that whatsoever—and I am really grateful to him for raising his concerns. He is not alone on this; I have spoken to many other Members of Parliament about this, too. He is right to say that harassment and intimidation are utterly unacceptable. Important services and advice are being provided. I can reassure him and say to the whole House that we are reviewing our work and policies on this important issue, and I think that that is absolutely right and proper.