Pro-life advocates in west London are challenging the legality of a new free speech ban outside a notorious British abortion facility.
On Thursday, pro-lifers with Be Here for Me argued in court that the buffer zone outside Marie Stopes in Ealing illegally discriminates against their right to free speech and to peacefully protest, according to The Guardian. They also said the ordinance unfairly targets people with a specific view point.
Florica Alina Dulgheriu, who filed the lawsuit, told the court that her daughter would not be alive today if the buffer zone had been in place seven years ago, STV News reports. She almost aborted her daughter, but chose life because of the support that she received from pro-life sidewalk counselors.
“She would not be with us today if it weren’t for the vigils that Ealing Council has criminalised,” she said when she filed the lawsuit. “I am asking that justice be done for those women who have been ignored by Ealing Council.
“I never expected a local council in the UK to make a decision that violates so many human rights; the right to free speech, the right to pray, the right to receive information and the right to assemble,” Dulgheriu continued.
Alasdair Henderson, her lawyer, said the council acted against just “two or three people waiting outside quietly offering leaflets and praying.”
In April, the Ealing Council in west London unanimously approved the 100-meter (328 foot) buffer zone to prohibit pro-life outreach around a Marie Stopes abortion facility in the city. Those who violate the buffer zone could face fines or jail time.
It is the first of its kind in England, and abortion activists hope to pressure more cities to take similar action.
Kuljit Bhogal, a lawyer for the Ealing Council, claimed the buffer zone protects women from harassment, but his evidence of this included a number of anonymous complaints, according to The Guardian. One claimed pro-lifers told a woman, “mummy, mummy, don’t kill me,” and another said someone thrust rosary beads at them.
Pro-life advocates repeatedly have denied these claims. Dulgheriu said the council does not have “sufficient justification” for criminalizing their outreach to women. Other pro-life volunteers also said they have never harassed women and hundreds of people have accepted the information they provide.
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 [Good Council Network] have figures for.”
Marie Stopes has a long record of dangerous health and safety violations, as well as allegations of giving staff incentives to sell abortions.
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It has an egregious 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.
The commission found evidence that Marie Stopes also was pressuring women to have abortions by incentivizing staff with bonuses.
Interestingly, an inquest about a woman who died after aborting her unborn baby at the Ealing abortion facility began at the same time as the buffer zone controversy. The inquest heard how the Ealing facility allegedly urged the woman to leave after her late-term abortion even though she was vomiting and swaying when she walked.
The woman, Aisha Chithira, 31, of Ireland, died later that evening of massive internal bleeding, The Evening Echo reports.
In addition, one of the Marie Stopes Australia facilities is facing a lawsuit after a woman said she almost died there from an abortion. The woman claims the 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.