House of Commons hands a major victory to pro-choice parties, passing an amendment establishing buffer zones outside abortion clinics in England and Wales.
While access to abortion services, free of harassment, abuse, and political and judicial nefarious interference, appears to be becoming a more difficult endeavor in nations across the globe, there are those stories that inspire hope and fuel optimism.
One such story comes from the UK’s political sphere.
The amendment, passed by a vote of 297-110 MPs, criminalizes obstructing, harassing, or interfering with any woman visiting an abortion clinic.
In particular, it bans impeding, intimidating, advising, influencing, threatening, harassing, and persuading, along with the use of physical, written, graphic or verbal means used to inform those attending about abortion services.
The penalty of six months in jail would be equipped against any protester found guilty of breaching the 150-meter buffer zones, around clinics.
Such a measure is not unwarranted as, according to British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), protestors have been found to call women, as they enter clinics, “murderers”, in addition to hanging baby clothes around the entrances.
In recent years anti-abortion demonstrations have entailed filming staff members and women, displaying graphic fetus images, and large groups singing hymns.
Such deplorable tactics serve only to cause distress and anguish to those already in a vulnerable position.
The use of a buffer zone is not a novelty to the UK as in 2018, a Marie Stopes International Clinic in Ealing was authorized and adopted the UK’s first-ever abortion Safe Access Zone. The council renewed said zone three years later, understanding the importance of having such a zone in place.
Moreover, the Scottish government created a Ministerial Working Group on the establishment of Abortion Safe Access Zones; pertaining to governmental, authority, and civil society members; which has had three meetings to date, beginning in December 2021. With there now being a possibility, the measure could be applied UK-wide.
While the UK Government’s Public Order Bill, pertaining to the amendment, will take some time to pass through subsequent readings in the House of Lords, such action should inspire hope.
Hope that there are those in positions of power who recognize the right of people to exercise their bodily autonomy, free of unjustified abhorrent intrusion from irrelevant parties.