One council may have banned protests outside of an abortion service, but every single one should.
One council has become the first in the UK to ban protests outside of abortion clinics/service providers. It’s a welcome move, but one which should be rolled out across the UK.
It’s hard to believe but protests outside of abortion clinics and service providers do take place – and regularly. People seeking a medical service should never face harassment.
This isn’t about freedom of speech. People can and do say what they like about abortion in society. This is about safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people who are seeking medical treatment. Whether people approve of that procedure or not, everyone has a right to access it – and protesters hinder that right of access.
“This is about safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people who are seeking medical treatment”
Abortion services are often intimidating enough as it is. There’s still huge stigma around abortion, trans people who may require abortions often don’t get any empathy, understanding or services that take into account their identity. Abortion is made as difficult as possible as it is. Our society and healthcare system is designed to shame people into questioning their decision. Abortion is rarely talked about in empowering terms, but as a necessity, which risks making it sound as though we’re embarrassed about needing those services when we should be proud.
Abortion gives people freedom of choice and that’s what we should be truly celebrating. If we want to protect freedom then we must protect people making choices about their future, not bullies who shout abuse.
The decision to ban protesters from directly outside abortion service providers will not obstruct free speech. They’ll just shout around the corner. There’s absolutely no way to silence an anti-choice lobby, anyone remotely interested in feminism will vouch for that. But there is a higher duty and that is to people seeking medical support. We wouldn’t allow protesters on an ambulance bay and so they shouldn’t be allowed to block access or intimidate people from seeking abortions. This is the right choice – now more councils need to follow.
If you enjoyed reading this article, we’d appreciate your support, which you can offer by buying Stand Up a coffee here.