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Manchester abortion clinic PSPO

A further abortion clinic has a PSPO (Public Spaces Protection Order). The Manchester City Council order covers the Marie Stopes clinic at Wynnstay Grove, Fallowfield.

Richard Bentley, Managing Director of Marie Stopes UK described the order as ‘a huge victory for the women of Manchester who will finally be able to access the healthcare to which they are legally entitled free from intimidation and harassment’.

He said: “Our team in Manchester do everything they can to create a welcoming haven where women feel supported in their choices, and during the pandemic have been working around the clock to keep services open for everyone who needs them. It is disgraceful that they have been forced to witness this undermined by the cruel tactics of the radical anti-choice groups standing outside. We are incredibly grateful to Manchester Council for recognising the emotional distress that these groups create and for taking proportionate action to protect the privacy and dignity of women accessing our clinic.

“However, while this decision will protect the wellbeing of everyone coming to our Manchester centre, the vast majority of abortion clinics throughout England and Wales remain defenceless. The fact is whether it’s one woman being harassed or 1,000, it’s still too many. It is time for the UK government to end the postcode lottery of harassment and legislate for Safe Access Zones outside all registered abortion care providers in the UK.”

As required by law, Manchester went through a consultation about the order, which closed in November 2019.

The anti-abortion group SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) condemned the council order. Antonia Tully of SPUC said: “What is so terrible about offering women last-minute help as they approach the abortion clinic? Every year, hundreds of women take advantage of this help.

“Manchester City Council was determined to believe the false premise that pro-life vigils are necessarily aggressive and threatening. In the consultation the Council asked whether intimidatory behaviour outside clinics was a ‘problem’, with no option for people to say that no such behaviour was taking place. The fact is that the people who take part in pro-life vigils have neither capacity for nor inclination to aggressive or coercive behaviour.”

Marie Stopes is calling for national ‘Safe Access Zones’ around all such clinics, arguing that PSPOs around only some providers means that protests will become focused on areas without a PSPO.

Ealing in west London was the first council to put in place such a ‘buffer zone’.

Picture by Mark Rowe; vigil across the road from an abortion clinic, Fitzrovia, central London.

Background

For the order in detail, visit the Manchester City Council website. Like other PSPOs, the city council made the order under section 59 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. More typically PSPOs cover dog fouling, littering or anti-social behaviour such as on-street drinking or aggressive begging.


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