A young mother who challenged a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) around an abortion facility in the London Borough of Ealing, has announced she will submit her case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The Supreme Court refused Alina Dulgheriu’s permission to appeal in March, leaving the European Court as her last legal option in challenging the PSPO. Introduced in April 2018, the order criminalises activities including silent prayer and charitable offers of help.
Ms Dulgheriu had herself received help from pro-life volunteers and argues that the order violates the fundamental rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and religion.
“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 do not have this vital support option removed,” said Ms Dulgheriu.
“I will 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 explained that while Ealing Council could have taken action in a way that would have protected women and safeguarded the essential help offered at the gate, it instead “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 said.
“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.”
Ryan Christopher, senior policy officer for faith-based legal advocacy organisation ADF International, warned that Ealing Council’s “disproportionate and wide-ranging measure” poses a “serious threat to freedom of speech, assembly, and religion”.
“It sets a worrying precedent and outlaws even the most compassionate offer of assistance as well as silent prayer,” he said. “In a free society, the authorities do not simply criminalise speech with which they disagree. Evidence shows that hundreds of women – like Alina – have accepted the help offered by peaceful pro-life groups outside abortion facilities.”
Clare Mulvany, of the Be Here For Me campaign, pointed out how censorship zones, such as the one in Ealing, goes against the supposed ‘pro-choice’ term that pro-abortion groups like to use to label themselves.
“The mothers of Be Here For Me are angry that their own experiences, and the help they have sought to pass on to others in their shoes, have been ignored and denied. We share their anger and deep resolve,” she said.
“No-one can claim to uphold a right to choose whilst supporting the stripping away of all but one choice.
“These women and their powerful stories must be made more visible.
Alina is resolute.
“We understand that she intends to appeal and she has our full support in this”.
Mirroring Ms Mulvany’s concerns, Robert Clarke, deputy director of ADF International, pointed out that by criminalising even the most basic offer of help, Ealing had “gone far beyond what is reasonable or proportionate”.
“The European Court of Human Rights has reiterated the importance of guaranteeing freedom of expression, especially where there is disagreement on an issue, and it is clear that Ealing’s censorship zone undermines this freedom without justification,” he added.
Ms Dulgheriu’s legal team are working on her application to the European Court of Human Rights, which marks the final court of appeal for her case. ECHR judgements affect around 800 million people across Europe, including the United Kingdom.
Her cause has been enabled by hundreds of donors who have contributed over £65,000 to her legal fund.
To make a donation to Alina Dulgheriu’s legal fund, see: https://www.gofundme.com/f/alinalegalfund
Picture: Alina with her daughter Sarah. (Be Here For Me).