Nobody wants buffer zones outside abortion clinics. But, as a new study so clearly shows, the fact is women need them.
The report, published by Aston University this week, looked at comments from BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) patients between 2011 and 2014. It found clear evidence that the presence of anti-abortion campaigners outside clinics is ‘a significant source of distress’.
These findings will not surprise anyone who has seen such a protest, or spoken to a woman who’s encountered one.
Even if pro-life activists do nothing, women consider their presence outside clinics to be invasive and intimidating. That is not to say their behaviour is irrelevant: ‘numerous clinic users reported significant feelings of being…scared and these feelings were exacerbated where users were filmed, followed or (in their view) threatened by activists.’
Last week, a patient told us she felt “degraded” by activists in Oxford. The week before, a mum accompanying her daughter in London said she was “worried and anxious” that protestors would make her feel guilty over her decision. While the testimonies are as different as the women themselves, the message is consistent: a private decision is not a matter for public debate.
It is, largely speaking, legal to have an abortion in the UK. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.
It is, largely speaking, legal to say whatever the hell you want, wherever you want, about anyone elses’ legal activities in Britain. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.
It is legal for the prodnoses to stand outside a pub with a sign telling us all that rum is fer the very devil. It’s legal for the public health wallahs to stand beside a donut stand telling us all that sugar will kill us. It’s legal to stand outside an abortion clinic with a sign saying that abortion is killing someone (or something).
We get to do the things which are legal and we get to sPeaKe oUr bRAIns about the people who do things which are legal.
At which point the idea that a private decision is not a possible subject for public debate can fuck right off.