In what SPUC has branded “a draconian attack on freedom of speech and religion”, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council has put forward proposals for a buffer zone around an abortion clinic that specifically bans forms of prayer.
BCP Council has put forward proposals to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for the area around the British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS) clinic on Ophir Road in Bournemouth. If this PSPO is imposed, pro-life vigils around the abortion clinic will be banned.
Such PSPOs are already in place in Ealing and Richmond in London.
The proposals explicitly ban women from receiving counseling when going into the clinic, and so would also prevent women who want help to keep their baby from being offered support by a pro-life counsellor. The PSPO would also restrict “holding vigils”, including audible prayers, genuflection and even making the sign of the cross.
The Council is currently running a public consultation on these proposals. SPUC has produced a guide for people in the area that gives some suggestions on how to answer the questions.
A SPUC spokesperson said: “We are seeing more and more attempts to ban pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics. While other councils have introduced these PSPOs, we’ve never seen specific forms of prayer targeted in this way.
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“But this is a particularly draconian attack on freedom of speech and religion. This shows that advocates of abortion want to drive any display of opposition to abortion out of the public square, even the sign of the cross.”
“It is vital that as many people as possible respond to the consultation. Pro-lifers in Bournemouth must retain their right to witness against abortion, and to pray for and offer help to women in need. These intolerant and discriminatory proposals must be defeated.”