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Abortion Clinics: Protection from Intimidation or Protest

Volume 682: debated on Wednesday 21 October 2020

What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on protecting women attending abortion clinics from intimidation or protest. (907858)

The Government are clear that it is unacceptable that women seeking or staff providing healthcare advice should feel intimidated or harassed. The Home Office has been keeping this important matter under review. We are now considering again whether more should be done to protect those accessing or providing abortion services, and we have reached out to service providers and the police to understand their experiences of these protests, but the impact on women is of course at the centre of our considerations.

That is a very encouraging reply. Right now, up and down the country, women are being intimidated and police are having their time taken up by 40 Days for Life, an anti-choice group that is running a 40-day protest outside clinics. France, Australia and Canada have legislation on this. I am encouraged by what the Minister says. Will she please follow suit and take heed of the Demonstrations (Abortion Clinics) Bill, which I introduced in June? There is overwhelming support in the House for us to do the same here.

I have the pleasure of meeting the hon. Lady and my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin) later today to discuss this topic. The hon. Lady will know the meticulous approach that we have applied to this important issue. There is a balance to be struck with the right to express and to have freedom of speech, but clearly the impact on women and staff working in these centres is really important. I am pleased that public spaces protection orders are working in her area and two others—Manchester, I understand, has just received an order, or is implementing an order, as well. We very much have to balance those matters in mind, but I look forward to continuing this discussion in only a few hours’ time.