Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign

ACTION: Early Day Motions on Harassment at Abortion Clinics

Two Early Day Motions (EDMs) have been lodged in parliament on the issue of buffer zones and harassment of clinics, staff and patients by anti abortionists.

Led by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s Back Off campaign, several organisations are calling for the use of ‘buffer zones’ to prevent anti-abortion campaigners from harassing women directly at the entrance of the building.

The first EDM, from Labour’s Diane Abbott, was lodged on 22nd June 2015 and describes the escalating problem of anti-abortion activity targeted at women and clinic staff which actively leads to clinic closure, supports the call for buffer zones and legislation to provide these, and calls for national guidance for police in dealing with the situation.

The second EDM, lodged by Green MP Caroline Lucas on 23rd June 2015, notes concern at the escalating anti-abortion activity targeted at women and staff around the clinics, supports the Back Off campaign’s aims and calls for the government to introduce legislation for buffer zones.

EDMs are used by MPs in the House of Commons as a vital way of drawing attention to important issues. Fellow MPs can signal their support of the motion by signing it. Few EDMs result in debate in parliament, but by then the work of an EDM has often been achieved: the highlighting of an issue and the stimulation of debate in the wider world, if not between MPs on the benches.

These EDMs are heartening news following the recent dismaying report from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) that found the current government may be the most ‘anti-abortion government in living memory’.

In Scotland, we have seen much less of this anti-abortion activity around buildings where women attend for abortion, perhaps partly due to the difference in provision in Scotland and England (the majority of abortions carried out in Scotland are within large NHS units; in England a significant proportion are carried out in smaller dedicated clinics).

Action:

Ask your local MP to sign in support of these Early Day Motions!

And, if he or she has already signed, why not thank your local MP?  It’s important as pro-choice supporters that we engage with our MPs on all activity regarding abortion access. Let’s let them know that we appreciate action in support of our access to free, safe and legal abortion.

The lists include some Scottish MPs and will update as further MPs sign and it’s officially recorded.

Find out which MPs signed each EDM here:

EDM 162: CLOSURE OF ABORTION CLINICS, lodged by Diane Abbott MP

EDM 172: BUFFER ZONES AROUND ABORTION CLINICS, lodged by Caroline Lucas MP

You can find out who your MP is and how to contact them at theyworkforyou.com. All that’s required is a short note by email to say you support what the motions are calling for and would like to see your MP formally support them too.

Learn more about Abortion Rights Committee Scotland here and find details of pro-choice activity near you by visiting our Local Groups page.