Council decision for buffer zone outside Portsmouth abortion clinic welcomed

The two protest groups face eachother in the grounds of St Mary's Hospital. Picture: Vernon Nash
The two protest groups face eachother in the grounds of St Mary's Hospital. Picture: Vernon Nash
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A SERVICE running an abortion clinic in Portsmouth has welcomed a council decision to ‘fully explore’ buffer zones for protesters.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic at St Mary’s Hospital, in Milton, has welcomed the vote by Portsmouth City Council this afternoon.

In response to recent anti-abortion protest activity outside the hospital, councillors today passed a motion to commit to ‘fully exploring every available option’ to create a buffer zone around the site.

The move follows action taken by Ealing Council last month to begin the process of finding a solution to anti-abortion activity outside a clinic in the borough.

A British Pregnancy Advisory Service spokeswoman said: ‘We welcome Portsmouth City Council’s decisive vote to take all action within their power to provide reassurance and security to all women accessing our services.

‘As the council has noted, this is not about shutting down debates about abortion or limiting free speech, but about protecting the rights of individuals to access legal healthcare freely and without intimidation.’

As previously reported in The News, scuffles broke out between pro-life and pro-choice protesters last month outside St Mary’s Hospital.

It follows pro-life group 40 Days For Life Portsmouth holding signs outside the clinic and then being opposed by Pro-Choice Hampshire.

In response to the council’s decision, 40 Days for Life Portsmouth said they were disappointed at the motion but welcomed some councillors not supporting it.

Lisa Butler said: ‘In the debate today four women from the public gave stirring speeches asking that the council vote down the motion.

‘Disappointingly their voices were ignored by the councillors who voted for the motion.

‘It was promising to see that a number of councillors had serious concerns with this motion and either abstained or voted against the motion.

‘It’s great that councillors emphasised this afternoon’s vote wasn’t a vote to ban people from exercising their human rights and peacefully praying outside the hospital. It’s the beginning of the council looking at options they have available to work with groups here including us to find a solution on this issue.’