Liberal Democrat candidates have pledged their support to a campaign by Lambeth residents to protect women from harassment when using the borough’s three pregnancy termination clinics.
Protesters from anti-abortion groups are frequently seen close to the entrance of the clinics on Leigham Court Road and Brixton Hill. The methods used by the protesters include disseminating upsetting images and false information on abortions in an attempt to dissuade women from using the clinics’ services. Women have complained of feeling targeted and intimidated when entering the clinics.
Residents in Streatham and Brixton Hill got together to ask the council for action in Lambeth after the landmark decision by Ealing Council last year, which will see Ealing Council pursue a public space protection order blocking harassment outside abortion clinics.
Helen Thompson, a Lib Dem candidate for Streatham Wells ward, and Kathryn Grant, a candidate in Oval ward, will both be part of a deputation to the council on 24th January, calling for buffer zones to be introduced around the Lambeth clinics. Liberal Democrat members from across the borough signed up to support the deputation, which will be led by Janet Baker of the Women’s Equality Party.
Helen Thompson, pictured below, said: “I contacted the Sister Supporter campaign group after Ealing Council took its decision on buffer zones. I wanted to see if Lambeth residents could run a similar campaign to protect women using Lambeth’s pregnancy termination services. I’d seen the anti-abortion protesters outside the Streatham and Brixton clinics and felt angry that they are interfering with women’s right to access legal healthcare without intimidation.
“The protesters say they are ‘helping’ women who use the clinics. But women using these services get support from medical professionals and have access to trained counsellors to make their own informed decision - the last thing they need is harassment and false, manipulative literature as they go into the clinic. Residents in the areas around the clinics have done a great job of mobilising to get the council to take action on this issue, and I look forward to seeing the council pass the motion in support of buffer zones around Lambeth’s abortion clinics.”
Lambeth Liberal Democrats believe that women should be able to access their legal right to healthcare with dignity. We believe that protests outside clinics are unacceptable as they violate the privacy of the individual and bring unnecessary extra distress to women who may already be going through a very emotional time.
Anti-abortion groups have the right to peaceful protest, but protests should not cause distress to women using pregnancy termination clinics. These protests should be moved elsewhere, with a buffer zone around the clinics that ensures the anonymity and privacy of service users.
Lambeth council is due to launch a consultation on the use of Public Space Protection Orders around Lambeth’s abortion clinics before the end of January. We encourage Lambeth residents to participate in the consultation. Check back later on our website and social media for links to the consultation.