The consultation only opened on Monday, even though the House of Commons approved the Public Order Act which covers the 150m buffer zones 14 months ago, in October 2022.
Progress has only been made since Sulla Braverman, the former Home Secretary, was sacked in October. Cllr Donna Harris, Leader of the Lambeth Lib Dems, believes that Braverman “deliberately delayed action on this because she put her own interests first.”
The consultation will be used to give police forces guidance on how the Government defines behaviour which ‘influences’ or ‘obstructs’ any person accessing, providing, or facilitating abortion services.
In Brixton, the number of protests taking place outside the MSI Reproductive Choices Clinic has increased dramatically since the Roe vs Wade judgement in the United States.
Cllr Harris is concerned the UK could be on the same path as the United States:
“Even the wording in the Government’s consultation is being used to weaponise this debate with ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’ language that is reminiscent of vitriolic arguments in the United States'', she said. “Those debates resulted in immense harm to women.”
To counter that polarised narrative, Cllr Harris has written to the Labour Party and Green Party leaders asking them to submit a joint response to the Government consultation. In July 2022, Lambeth Council came together cross-party to pass an Emergency Motion on Abortion Rights, following the Roe vs Wade court case. Cllr Harris said that a similar cross-party response to the consultation would “reinforce that we are standing together in strength and solidarity for all women in Lambeth.”
Commenting, Cllr Donna Harris, Leader of the Lambeth Lib Dem Group, said:
“As individuals and politicians we need to speak up and show support for the ability to end a pregnancy. Not least because, in the past 10 years, we have seen a number of parliamentary bids to restrict abortion by some MPs. To date, these attempts have failed, but the overturning of Roe v Wade has given the anti-abortion movement all over the world new momentum.
“This is not just about being denied the right to abortion – it is a case of equality. If we are not allowed as women to take control of our own bodies, we will never close the inequality gaps between the sexes.”