A group of mothers helped by vigil members outside abortion clinics have expressed their dismay that the Court of Appeal has upheld a censorship zone outside a London abortion clinic.
Three leading judges dismissed an appeal against an earlier ruling that restrictions imposed by Ealing Council in west London on protests outside a Marie Stopes clinic were “justified”.
The appellant, Alina Dulgheriu has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Despite finding that the appellant’s rights to assembly, religion, thought, expression and the reception of information were violated by the Ealing Public Order, the court ruled that such violations were justified because of the right to privacy of Marie Stopes attendees not to be seen in public.
Following the decision of Ealing Council to introduce a censorship zone around the Marie Stopes facility on Mattock Lane, Ms Dulgheriu, a mother who had been helped by a local vigil, had unsuccessfully challenged the order at the High Court last July.
Ms Dulgheriu has challenged the Ealing censorship zone because it prevents the help women need to escape an unwanted or coerced abortion. The broadly-worded Ealing public spaces protection order (PSPO) criminalises, among other activities:
• Any act whatsoever of approval or disapproval regarding abortion
• Handing out leaflets with an offer of practical support to women who wish to keep their child
• ‘Interfering’ with a clinic user in any way whatsoever
Prominent human rights campaigners have expressed great concern about ease with which PSPOs allow councils to override basic civil liberties.
Ms Dulgheriu, who has brought legal action against Ealing Council, said: “My little girl is here today because of the real practical and emotional support that I was given by a group outside a Marie Stopes centre, and I am going to appeal this decision to ensure that women in Ealing and all across the country do not have this vital support option removed.”
Ms Dulgheriu pledged to continue to stand up for “the women whose voices have been sidelined throughout this process and for women who need life-saving support today but cannot get it”.
She said Ealing Council could have taken action in a way that would have protected women and safeguarded the essential help offered at the gate but instead they “criminalised charity and attempted to remove dedicated and caring individuals from public space without justification”.
“It is very clear that many are opposed to Ealing’s ban on peaceful and charitable activity, and like me, they want to see support available to vulnerable women where it is most needed,” she continued.
“I cannot imagine a society where a simple offer of help to a woman who might want to keep her child is seen as a criminal offence. I refuse to accept that women should be denied the opportunity to receive help where they want to keep their child.”
Picture: Alina Dulgheriu. (Be Here For Me).