A new buffer zone around a west London abortion clinic will hurt the very people who it is supposed to help, British Catholic Bishop Philip Egan said Wednesday.
The Portsmouth bishop said the newly-approved Ealing buffer zone is “disrespectful to vulnerable women” who are seeking help, the Catholic News Agency reports.
“I am deeply concerned about the imposition of ‘no-prayer zones’ around clinics where abortions take place,” Egan said.
“To remove from the environment of the abortion clinics alternative voices is to limit freedom of choice. Indeed, research shows that many women have been grateful for the last-minute support they have thereby received,” he continued.
Earlier this month, the Ealing Council in west London unanimously approved the 100-meter (328 foot) buffer zone around a Marie Stopes abortion facility in the city. It is the first of its kind in England, and abortion activists hope to pressure more councils to take similar action.
Those who violate the buffer zone could face fines or jail time.
Abortion activists claim the buffer zone is necessary to protect women from harassment, but pro-life advocates with the Good Counsel Network said they have never harassed women and “hundreds” have accepted the information they provide.
Egan expressed similar concerns about the buffer zone restricting women’s access to vital information.
As CNA reports:
The Portsmouth bishop went on to call the ruling “disrespectful to vulnerable women,” who can be gravely harmed by an abortion procedure. He also lamented the removal of peaceful prayer near the abortion clinics, which he called crucial for women considering abortions or who have experienced abortions.
Egan said “prayer is crucial: For forgiveness, for healing, for reparation, for the dear mothers and fathers involved, for the safety and protection of the unborn child and for the conversion of the medical staff who are complicit.”
Previously, Ealing pro-life advocate Clare McCullough told a local radio station a ban of pro-life vigils would support the business interests of the abortion facility, which has “lost about 13% of their clientele in the last year, that [GCN] have figures for.”
Marie Stopes, which will benefit from the free speech restriction, has a long record of dangerous health and safety violations, as well as allegations of giving staff incentives to sell abortions.
It has an egregious safety reputation, having botched nearly 400 abortions in a two-month period in 2017, according to the British Care Quality Commission. In 2016, inspectors found such horrible conditions that the British government temporarily shut down some of the abortion chain’s operations.
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Several women died along with their unborn babies at Marie Stopes facilities in the past decade. In 2011, a woman died from a failed legal abortion at a facility in Australia. In 2013, an Irish woman also died with her unborn child after having an abortion at one of its facilities in London.
In addition, one of its Australia facilities is facing a lawsuit after a woman said she almost died there from an abortion. The woman claims that a Marie Stopes abortionist failed to recognize that she had an ectopic pregnancy before the abortion. A few days later, the woman had to have emergency surgery because her fallopian tube ruptured and threatened her life, according to court documents.
The Care Quality Commission found evidence that Marie Stopes also was pressuring women to have abortions by incentivizing staff with bonuses.
The abortion chain has been accused of unethical practices in Africa as well. In 2017, a community in Kenya said Marie Stopes workers implanted long-lasting contraceptive devices into girls as young as 14 without their parents’ knowledge or consent. It also has been accused of doing hundreds of dangerous, illegal abortions in Africa.