Anti-abortion campaigners could be banned from gathering outside a Birmingham clinic.
City councillors have backed a motion which could lead to a ‘buffer zone’ being introduced outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Edgbaston.
The motion, which was put forward by Councillors Paulette Hamilton (LEFT) and Jayne Francis at the authority’s latest full council meeting, follows in the footsteps of similar proposals by councils in Ealing, Portsmouth and Southwark.
The motion called it "street harassment" and a "form of sexism against women." Also said: " The council acknowledges those with deeply held beliefs will continue to campaign against abortion. However, it is inappropriate to further this debate by targeting women outside healthcare providers. The right to protest must be balanced with the right of pregnant women to choose and to obtain advice and treatment in confidence and free from intimidation."
40 Days for Life is a Christian-based campaign body which was founded in Texas but now has groups across the world and its mission is to "show local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighbourhoods, for their own friends and families". Its Birmingham branch has held vigils in the city for seven years and last month it finished its second of 2017 outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Edgbaston. Its next 40-day vigil will start on Valentine’s Day. In response to the city council’s motion, campaign director for Birmingham Isabel Vaughan-Spruce said: "I was saddened but not surprised those pushing this motion in the council didn’t bother to contact a single member of the 40 Days for Life team or witness a vigil before making their uninformed decision."
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services, said in a statement: "We are very pleased Birmingham City Council has taken this important decision to protect women as they exercise their legal right to healthcare.
"This is not about shutting down the debate on abortion but about ensuring the women who use these services are able to receive advice and treatment without interference and in confidence."